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Twitter limits readable tweets count, chaos ensues

Twitter limits readable tweets count, chaos ensues

Those who thought Twitter would be steadying the ship are going to be disappointed. With Linda Yaccarino replacing Elon Musk as CEO, the social media platform’s drastic actions are not over. Last weekend, the site was difficult to access due to a sudden cap on the amount of tweets a user could see. Only a few days before that, it was dealing with a flood of bots and spam alerts. What’s going on?

Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted last weekend that the platform would set limits on the number of tweets a user can see daily. The specific numbers fluctuated, but initially, it was 6,000 posts per day for verified users, 600 for unverified and 300 for newly verified accounts. Whatever number it was, for many users there was no resemblance of access at all, with the site down globally.

The reason for the sudden limitation? It served to deter “scraping” bots, which operate as an alternative to the API disappearing behind a paywall to collect data. Musk deemed the restriction necessary to resist what he called “data-plundering.” Earlier, he expressed annoyance at the alleged use of Twitter data to train chatbots and generative AI models, which is a debatable practice for all sorts of things. However, it is another instance of chaos at Twitter since Musk bought it last year.


In late 2022, it was already apparent that major tech companies were seeing a significant decline in their revenue generated from ads. Such was the case with Twitter, too. However, the exits at Twitter were quite substantial: 50 of the top 100 advertisers were said to have walked away by the end of last year. Uncertainty surrounding the handling of extreme content, including hate posts, led to a hefty revenue setback.

The Twitter saga thundered on with the significant curtailment and paywalling of its own API, which was deployed by many a company, app and researcher. Suddenly, dozens of apps ceased to function due to Musk’s sudden change in direction.

With the announcement of Linda Yaccarino taking office, a former CEO at NBCUniversal, there seemed to be a sign that calm would return. Musk’s fickle reign, CEO or not, seems to have thrown another surprise our way just a month after she took office.

Bigger trial

A social media platform going down temporarily is surmountable. Reddit, YouTube and Facebook also have the occasional hiccup. The only question is whether Twitter’s problems are temporary. Musk refuses to pay his Google Cloud bills, in addition to Twitter no longer remitting rent for its own offices. AWS also suddenly stopped receiving a penny for the cloud services it provides. The cost savings are drastic indeed. However, it cannot be ruled out that these parties will shut down their service at some point, resulting in more outages. Even worse, back in March, AWS refused to pay out ad revenue to Musk and co because of the outstanding bills.

Twitter is looking for proper profits and has little support in that pursuit from the outside world. It is important to recognize, however, that more parties are making this profit hunt. Reddit recently suffered public outrage as it too pushed its API behind a paywall, causing major third-party apps such as Apollo and Reddit is Fun to stop operations since July 1. These drastic measures put their users in harm’s way, but one does not do this lightly.

Tip: Mass protest against Reddit’s API policy may be in vain

In short, the last word about the Twitter saga has not yet been said. While Musk continues to fumble, users can expect turbulence due to policy changes and outages. It’s only a matter of time before a major player like Google or Amazon really challenges Musk’s rigidity. Hopefully, by then he will have found the money to have an on-prem alternative to those cloud services.

What is scraping?

The form of “scraping” bots Musk is talking about is an automated process in which a bot account downloads content from a Web site and sends it back to a database at lightning speed. This creates countless HTTP requests that can put a huge strain on the systems behind a platform like Twitter. Because of the demise of the free Twitter API, the bot scraping method has become a lot more obvious. For a detailed explanation, Cloudflare has an explainer available.