July 1, 2023 marked the dawn of a new era in the Twitterverse. After a tumultuous period of unorthodox changes under the new CEO Elon Musk, the social media giant made headlines once again with a controversial move. Musk announced the imposition of “temporary limits” on the number of tweets users could read per day. This unprecedented decision created a ripple effect, drawing both criticism and intrigue from users and industry watchers.
Twitter Rate Limit: The New ‘Tweet Ceiling'
Verified Twitter users, once free to consume content unbounded, were now restricted to reading 6,000 tweets per day, with unverified users allowed to read 600. For new and unverified accounts, the limit was even tighter at 300 posts per day. Only two hours later, in a confusing twist, Musk increased these limits to 8,000, 800, and 400 for verified, unverified, and new unverified accounts, respectively.
Rate limits increasing soon to 8000 for verified, 800 for unverified & 400 for new unverified https://t.co/fuRcJLifTn
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2023
Musk justified these changes as a measure to combat the extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation rampant on Twitter. This followed Musk's previous “temporary emergency” move which restricted non-registered users from viewing any tweets, also aimed at combatting data scraping.
How Twitter would determine what counts as a ‘read' tweet remained a mystery. Twitter's cryptic response to requests for clarification was an automated poop emoji, adding a surreal touch to the unfolding drama.
The Twitterverse Reacts
The backlash to this controversial policy was immediate and loud. Frustrated users began seeing “rate limit exceeded” and “Cannot retrieve tweets” messages while scrolling through their feeds. The hashtag #TwitterDown started trending as more users encountered the newly implemented limits.
Industry experts and casual users alike expressed their dismay. The #RIPTwitter hashtag began trending, emblematic of users' unhappiness.
Elon Musk is another example why landlord and tenant no suppose dey live inside the same house.
— LERRY (@_AsiwajuLerry) July 1, 2023
The historian and author, Kevin Kruse, eloquently compared the new Twitter environment to a bar at closing time, where the lights are flicked on and off and annoying music is played to nudge the last patrons out.
Critics also voiced skepticism regarding the effectiveness of this approach in combating data scraping and system manipulation. Many argued for a more robust security framework that differentiates between human and bot activities, calling for transparency in enforcing these new limits.
In a different angle, Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University and a seasoned media commentator, hypothesized that Musk's move might be a strategic play to enhance the appeal of Twitter's subscription service, Twitter Blue.
— Gautamgg.eth/sol 🇮🇳❤️ (@Gautamguptagg) July 1, 2023
A Troubled Reign
Musk's tenure as Twitter's CEO has been marked by controversy and drastic changes, including mass layoffs, lax content moderation, and modifications to the blue-check verification system. Twitter's advertising business has been suffering, with Musk's primary focus seeming to lean towards product design and innovation.
The full ramifications of Musk's temporary tweet cap remain uncertain, but it has undoubtedly stirred up a storm within Twitter's user base and the broader tech industry. Whether this bold move will effectively address the problems Musk stated or further exacerbate Twitter's existing challenges is a question only time will answer.