SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter owner Elon Musk has limited the number of tweets that users can view each day — restrictions he described as an attempt to prevent unauthorized scraping of potentially valuable data from the social media platform.
The site is now requiring people to log on to view tweets and profiles — a change in its longtime practice to allow everyone to peruse the chatter on what Musk has frequently touted as the world’s digital town square since buying it for $44 billion last year.
The restrictions could result in users being locked out of Twitter for the day after scrolling through several hundred tweets. Thousands of users complained Saturday of not being able to access the site.
In a Friday tweet, Musk described the new restrictions as a temporary measure that was taken because “we were getting data pillaged so much that it was degrading service for normal users!”
Musk has pushed back on what he calls misuse of Twitter data to train popular artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT. They scour reams of information online to generate human-like text, photos, video and other content.
Musk elaborated on the limits Saturday, saying unverified accounts will temporarily be restricted to reading 600 posts per day, while verified accounts will be able to scroll through up to 6,000.
After facing backlash, he tweeted that the thresholds would be raised to 800 posts for unverified accounts and 8,000 for verified accounts before later settling on 1,000 and 10,000 tweets, respectively.
The crackdown began to have ripple effects, causing more than 7,500 people at one point Saturday to report problems using the social media service, based on complaints registered on Downdetector, a website that tracks online outages.
Although that’s a relatively small number of Twitter’s more than 200 million worldwide users, the trouble was widespread enough to cause the #TwitterDown hashtag to trend in some parts of the world.
The higher threshold allowed on verified accounts is part of an $8-per-month subscription service that Musk rolled out earlier this year in an effort to boost Twitter revenue. It has fallen sharply since the billionaire Tesla CEO took over the company and laid off roughly three-fourths of the workforce to cut costs and stave off bankruptcy.
Musk recently hired longtime NBC Universal executive Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s CEO to try to win back advertisers.
An Associated Press inquiry about Saturday’s access problems triggered a crude automated reply that Twitter sends to most media queries without addressing the question.