After shutting off anonymous access to the site, Twitter owner Elon Musk announced the introduction of rate limits for registered users.
According to Musk’s initial announcement on Twitter, fired off as a tweet on the site, Twitter is limiting daily reads for all accounts on the site. The number of allowed reads depends on the account type.
The initial numbers were 6000 daily reads for verified accounts, 600 reads for unverified accounts and 300 for new unverified accounts. Musk called these measures temporary to address “extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation”.
He increased the limits twice since his initial announcement. Verified accounts, those who pay a monthly subscription fee, have a limit of 10,000 reads per day as it stands. Similarly, unverified accounts, those who do not pay Twitter a monthly fee, had their daily reads increased to 1000 posts. New unverified accounts, finally, had their daily read limits increased to 500.
The daily read limit may look sufficient, but limits are reached quickly, considering that scrolling the timeline of a topic or a Twitter user can quickly accumulate dozens if not hundreds of posts.
Twitter users documented read-limit errors in numerous tweets on the site already. Some users also claimed to have received error messages about reached rate limits before the limits were announced officially by Musk.
Musk did not provide further information on the data scraping and system manipulation claim. Critics of the changes suggest that the real reason for making the changes may have an increase of paying subscribers as the underlying motive rather than protecting Twitter against scrapers and attempts to use the site’s data for the training of Large Language Models.
Developer Sheldon Chang noticed that Twitter’s new read limits were causing the site to self-DDOS itself. DDOS, Distributed Denial of Service, attacks attempt to overload services with requests. Twitter’s implementation of rate limits seems to have the same effect, only that it was implemented by the site itself and not an outside force.
He published a Developer Tools screenshot that showed about 10 requests per second that Twitter performed for users who reached their limits.
Musk stated that the limitations are temporary, but he failed to provide an outlook. Twitter has become barely usable for a lot of users in the past couple of days. First, by blocking access for users who do not have an account; this alone may have severe consequences for the site. Since non-Twitter users do not see tweets anymore, sharing tweets with them is no longer something that many users will do.
For registered users, the situation is almost equally worse. The rate limits are low, especially for paying customers, and the error messages mean that users will run into roadblocks eventually. While the measures may push signups and subscriptions, it may also lead to users closing their accounts or letting them sit idly.