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Twitter has drawn backlash from users after Elon Musk said the social media platform was placing temporary limits on the number of posts they could see.
Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who bought the company for $44bn in December, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that users with verified accounts – who pay $8 a month for the premium subscription service – can read up to 6,000 posts a day. People with unverified accounts and new unverified accounts can read 600 and 300 tweets a day respectively, he said.
He added that the decision was taken to “address extreme levels of data scraping [and] System manipulation on the platform.
Following strong criticism from users, he later said that these “rate limits” would be adjusted to 10,000 posts for verified accounts and 1,000 or 500 for unverified accounts.
The move comes as artificial intelligence-powered chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard — which scrape or harvest data from the Internet to power their models — have exploded in popularity. Twitter and rival Reddit have signaled their intention to stop groups from collecting data for free.
Almost every company doing AI, from start-ups to some of the biggest corporations on the planet, was scraping massive amounts of data, Musk wrote on Friday.
“The need to bring a large number of servers online on an emergency basis to facilitate the outrageous valuation of some AI start-up is very pleasing,” he added.
Musk has recently sought to charge third parties more broadly for accessing Twitter’s data, after warning months ago that the company could face bankruptcy if it doesn’t improve its finances. Earlier in the week, the company announced that tweets can no longer be viewed without logging into a user account, a move that could push more individuals to sign up to the platform.
The changes prompted a swift backlash from users, with many tweeting that they had received an error message reading “rate limit exceeded” and were blocked from viewing further posts. The phrase trended on Twitter on Saturday morning, with thousands of users also reporting problems with the platform.
Some former Twitter executives also criticized the decision. Esther Crawford, who was director of product management until she was fired by Musk in February, tweeted on Sunday: “Hubris + no pushback – customer empathy – data = best way to light billions on fire.”