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This time, Musk decided to temporarily limit the number of tweets users can view within one day, with the particular figure changing based on the status of your account. 

When Musk first announced the update, verified users could view up to 6,000 posts a day, unverified users 600 per day, and new & unverified users only 300 per day. However, since then, the limits have increased twice (now 8,000, 1,000, and 500, accordingly), and we’re not entirely sure why; it could be due to an understatement by Twitter developers or severe backlash by Twitter users.

The update was a very sudden one, too. Most Twitter users took to complaining on various other platforms and websites on Saturday late morning / early afternoon (UK time) when they were met with the error message “rate limit exceeded” platform-wide.

The error message took Twitter by storm, with #TwitterDown, #RateLimitExceeded, #RIPTwitter, and #Elon topping the UK trending charts throughout the weekend. Incredibly, #Elon was tweeted over 1 million times on Saturday (and it only started trending in the afternoon)!

Why Did the Limit Come Into Place?

According to the Twitter Executive Chairman and CTO himself, the limit was introduced to “address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation”. 

Musk said the day before that “several hundred organizations were scraping Twitter data extremely aggressively, to the point where it was affecting the real user experience” and that he was “open to ideas” on how to address such issues.

Supposedly “almost every company doing AI” had been scraping data from Twitter to train their AI tools, and Musk had had enough. He claims that data scraping has been making the platform less stable for everyday users, so the update is seemingly a way to alleviate the issue.

Nonetheless, even if it is for our benefit, finding out we can’t physically use the app is much, much worse than seeing a couple of AI-generated Twitter accounts within the replies of tweets.

However, because of the incredible difference between the limits set for verified and non-verified users, we can assume that money had a big part to play in this update. Musk has always had his sights set on increasing Twitter’s revenue, as he claims the platform was in a downward spiral pre-takeover and could face bankruptcy if its finances didn’t approve. 

Plenty of users probably panicked at the thought of not being able to use the app as much as they had previously been able to, so they folded and subscribed to “Twitter Blue”. Well done, Elon. 

The Effect of the Update

Thanks to the update, similar platforms Mastodon and Bluesky experienced huge spikes in traffic to their sites over the weekend. Bluesky, which is backed by co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, recorded its highest number of users on the platform in one moment ever.

The update was also introduced at a great time for Meta, as its rival platform ‘Threads’ is being launched this Thursday (the 6th), and we’re confident many more people than previously thought are now going to be joining the brand-new platform upon release.

One thing of note, too, is that because of the financial issues Musk claims Twitter was facing, is it really a good idea to limit the presence advertisers have on the platform? Where is the logic behind capping users on the number of tweets they can view, as this is surely detrimental to the performance of adverts and, thus, the fees advertisers will have to pay to Twitter?

People have been able to poke fun at the update, though. Hilariously, Jack Dorsey tweeted an image of some grass on Saturday, implying that Twitter users should put their phones down, go outside, and touch some grass.

Since Saturday, we haven’t come across the “rate limit exceeded” error message again. Perhaps due to not reaching the now 1,000 tweet limit or because Musk was telling the truth when he said it was a “temporary” change. Fingers crossed, he’s realised it was a major mistake and subsequently backpedalled.

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