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Elon Musk imposes daily limits on reading posts on Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Twitter owner Elon Musk has limited the amount of tweets that most users can view each day – restrictions he described as an attempt to prevent unauthorised 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 USD44 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.

ABOVE & BELOW: Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX, at the Vivatech fair in Paris, France; a sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco. PHOTO: AP
PHOTO: AP

Musk elaborated on the limits on 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 over 7,500 people at one point on 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 over 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 USD8-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.

Advertisers have since curbed their spending on Twitter, partly because of changes that have allowed more sometimes-hateful and prickly content that offends a wider part of the service’s audience.

Musk recently hired longtime NBC Universal executive Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s CEO to try to win back advertisers.

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