Twitter Rate Limit
Source: Twitter

Twitter owner Elon Musk hired a new CEO for Twitter last month, but that's not stopping him from making insane decisions about how his latest toy should be run. Claiming that he's trying to halt "extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation", Musk's imposed significant limitations on how many tweets users can see — with higher limits for paying Twitter Blue "verified" users:

  • Accounts subscribed to Twitter Blue can read up to 6,000 posts per day
  • Not-paying accounts can only view 600 posts/day
  • New free accounts are capped at 300 posts/day
  • Users that aren't logged into an account can't see any posts, both in the main feed and direct viewing of individual posts

While Musk states that this is all about data scrapping and "system manipulation" (whatever the hell that means), like the imposition of astronomically high API fees the real goal here is to just squeeze as much money out of his $40 billion purchase as possible. While Musk may believe that Twitter's data is valuable to AI companies as a training dataset (an argument that Reddit CEO Steve Huffman made when announcing Reddit's own draconian API fees), the simple truth is that the overwhelming majority of what is posted on Twitter is completely useless garbage. I know you might not be able to see any of it now if you're not a registered user, but I used to be a Twitter addict and let me tell you: the occasionally useful gems are obscured in a sea of rotting kelp.

Musk seems to think that Twitter's flea market-grade of content is worth anything. It's not.

The hope that any AI company is going to pony up millions of dollars for access to Twitter's data stream is folly. While it is almost certain that some bots were scraping Twitter for data, they only did that because it was free and building and operating the bot was relatively cheap to do. The process of cleaning the collected data would be the most expensive part, and it's only worth it because the data would've been cheap to acquire in the first place. Like people that go to flea markets and buy old furniture to put the elbow grease into restoring, it's only worth it if the beat up old table was cheap to buy in the first place. If it's priced based on its potential and not its current state, then nobody will buy it.

The limitations are also a cost-saving move for Twitter, which has aggressively cut expenses under Musk's leadership. They've laid off a massive portion of the staff, killed pricier projects, and defaulted on expensive office space contracts. It's all a real shit show, and the increasingly absurd moves like this are only going to further hurt the long-term viability of Twitter.

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