Confusion on Twitter continues due to tweet limits – BBC News

  • By Shiona McCallum & Liv McMahon
  • Technology journalist

image source, Getty’s image

The confusion on Twitter appears to have continued after owner Elon Musk imposed a cap on the number of posts users can read in a day.

The billionaire announced “temporary measures” to address the extreme level of data scraping on the site.

The starting cap was quickly raised by Mr Musk over the weekend.

While many users reported no longer seeing the limit on Sunday, some said the “limit exceeded” notification had returned on Monday.

Mr Musk – who took over Twitter in October 2022 – previously said he was unhappy about artificial intelligence (AI) companies using Twitter data to train their big language models.

Changes to the platform over the weekend saw it impose an initial 600 tweet limit for unverified Twitter users who did not pay to subscribe to the platform, but Mr Musk said this had increased to 1,000 by Saturday night.

He has yet to provide an update on whether the restrictions will remain in effect.

AI problem?

In response to user tagging issues with the site’s features, Mr Musk said in a tweet on Saturday morning Twitter had enforced the action as a result of “EXTREME level data scraping”.

The process is the primary method for gathering content and information from web platforms, and involves extracting data from sites, often at large scale, so that it can be accessed and read in a local format, such as in a spreadsheet.

“Nearly every company that does AI, from start-ups to some of the largest companies on Earth, collects massive amounts of data,” Musk added in a tweet.

“It’s a bit of a pain to have to bring a large number of servers online in a pinch just to facilitate the outrageous judgment of some AI startups.”

Data scientist and former Twitter employee, Dr Rumman Chowdhury, told the BBC it was unclear whether the AI ​​organization had taken data from Twitter, but suggested financial issues may be behind the changes.

“Frankly, I think I’m in the majority of people who believe that it’s due to his lack of paying his bills… and him trying to reduce his costs,” she said.

An Australian project management firm has filed a lawsuit against Twitter in a US court seeking cumulative payments of around A$1 million (£534,000) for alleged non-payment of bills for work performed in four countries, according to court filings.

In May, the former public relations firm filed a lawsuit in a New York court saying Twitter had not paid its bills, while earlier this year US-based advisory firm Innisfree M&A Inc sued it, seeking around $1.9 million (£1.4 million) for what he said were unpaid bills after notifying Twitter of Mr Musk’s acquisition.

Since Mr Musk bought Twitter, he’s focused on reducing costs by laying off half of the workforce and introducing a subscription service, which offers a sought-after “verified” badge for a monthly fee.

For platforms that require engagement, limiting posts seems to go the other way. It was an “extremely unprecedented and unprecedented tactic” that had “already failed”, said Dr Chowdhury.

Twitter is seeing advertisers flee amid concerns about Mr Musk’s approach to content moderation rules, which is affecting its revenue.

When Mr Musk spoke to the BBC in April, he said the company was now “roughly breaking even”, claiming most of its advertisers were back.

The tweet limits put some journalists, who use Twitter to find information for direct reporting and story verification, faced with restrictions.

Bel Trew, chief international correspondent for The Independent, tweeted that limits on how many tweets he could read on the platform had cost him “a total miss” reporting on Sunday.

And a reporter in the US city of Baltimore was unable to view tweets from the local police department’s Twitter account after the shooting that left two people dead and 28 injured.

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Those who received a “quota limit exceeded” notification found that this applies across all accounts – including to accounts tweeting real-time information about emergencies, weather hazards and natural disasters.

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The BBC reached out to Twitter for clarification and received an automated message of a poop emoji.


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