Twitter's Data Limitations: Elon Musk's Concerns, Monetization Strategies, and Technical Challenges Explained

According to Musk, unverified accounts will now have a daily limit of 600 posts, while new unverified accounts will be restricted to just 300 posts
Twitter CEO

Elon Musk continues to express his concerns regarding Twitter's recent limitations on AI companies scraping "vast amounts of data." In an announcement, he revealed the implementation of new "temporary" restrictions on the number of posts users can read.

According to Musk, unverified accounts will now have a daily limit of 600 posts, while new unverified accounts will be restricted to just 300 posts per day. Verified accounts, which include those acquired through the Twitter Blue subscription, granted by organizations, or verified by Musk himself (as seen with figures like Stephen King and LeBron James), can still access a maximum of 6,000 posts per day.

Musk later tweeted that the rate limits for reading posts would soon increase to 8,000 tweets for verified users, 800 for unverified accounts, and 400 for new unverified accounts.

These limitations were introduced shortly after Twitter blocked access for non-logged-in users. Musk claimed this action was necessary due to the aggressive data scraping conducted by numerous organizations, which was negatively impacting the overall user experience.

This change is just one of the many approaches Musk has taken to monetize Twitter in recent months. In March, the company announced a three-tier API change that involved charging for API usage. This move came just three months after launching the revamped Twitter Blue pay-for-verification scheme, priced at $8 per month. Additionally, Musk appointed Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO, a former NBC Universal ad executive tasked with rebuilding relationships with advertisers who had reduced their spending on Twitter.

As a private company, Twitter's financial situation is less transparent following Musk's acquisition. However, the hiring of Yaccarino highlights the importance of advertising revenue to the platform. Limiting access to the site contradicts the objective of providing opportunities for companies to showcase their paid ad spots. However, Musk's perspective as the monopoly brain behind Twitter may be clouding this consideration.

Musk primarily blames data-hungry companies training artificial intelligence models, such as the large language models behind ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing, and Google Bard, for the restrictions. However, he fails to mention the significant layoffs that occurred after he took over the company last fall, which included key personnel responsible for maintaining the platform's infrastructure. These hasty layoffs resulted in the rehiring of some engineers who were let go, and experts have repeatedly warned that such a substantial reduction in staff would impact the stability of Twitter.

In March, a major outage occurred as a result of a change made by a single engineer. Additionally, Twitter's Google Cloud bill reportedly went unpaid for several months until recently, reflecting a "Deep Cuts Plan" aimed at reducing daily infrastructure costs by millions of dollars, as previously reported by Reuters.

In November, an anonymous Twitter engineer interviewed by MIT Technology Review predicted that after the staff reductions, the platform would experience more frequent and prolonged technical issues, eventually leading to public-facing problems. Site reliability engineer Ben Kreuger echoed these concerns, stating that significant issues with the platform's technology were expected within six months. It has now been seven months since those statements were made.