Twitter Announces New Usage Limits Which Could Be Problematic

An hour ago, Twitter implemented a new limit on the number of tweets users can read during a day. Here’s why this doesn’t make sense…

On Saturday, Elon Musk tweeted:

🤯 This seemingly comes without any warning to users, myself being someone that was trying to use the platform this morning and kept hitting a new message that says “Rate limit exceed.”

Note that this is a separate platform change from the other most recent update that disables public viewing of tweets, now requiring visitors be logged in to view tweets. The target of that move was to limit the ability of bots and text and data mining from the platform (we see you, AI).

However, it may be tied to alleged issues with Twitter paying bills for its cloud hosting providers, which includes Google. Engadget previously reported the end of June was an alleged cutoff date for GCP.

Here are a couple of my initial thoughts on these new thresholds:

❓What data supports these limits? I’d be super curious to know the average number of tweets viewed per day by an average user or super users. I’m assuming (maybe incorrectly) that these numbers are based on the data?

❓Advertising doesn’t support a free model? A move such as this one makes it rather clear the ad revenue isn’t supporting an open platform for users that are logged in, at least in a meaningful way after a certain threshold of usage. Otherwise, implementation of limits in other (or even less limiting) ways to prevent content and data scraping would be more efficient and less problematic (as I’m outlining here).

Again, I’d be super curious to know more about the data behind: (1) how much does it cost Twitter to serve a single tweet to an end user; (2) how much does Twitter need to mix in advertising to support a viable revenue model on a per tweet or user session basis; and (3) at which point does revenue plateau (if at all?) regardless of continued usage and/or engagement time on the platform.

❓How does this impact advertisers? If these types of restrictions end up shutting out large amounts of an audience on the platform within a given time period, how do advertisers know they are left with a target audience that isn’t missing users that have moved on to another platform? I imagine brands, agencies, and other players in the advertising and marketing industries are diving into these new restrictions, especially if they have locked in contractually or pre-buys already.

❓Scrollings vs. Reading? One person replied to Elon’s tweet with a really valid question: “What counts as ‘reading?’ Like, does scrolling by count as ‘reading’?”

❓How will this impact trends and the ability for creators, journalists, researchers, and other users that might fall into a higher usage tier ? It’s idiotic to think that these usage thresholds allow the platform to remain remotely usable for the major creators of content on the platform.

❓Where is Linda?? 😅

But for real.

Update (3:06pm ET)

And within two hours, we now have an update that increases the limits by seemingly meaningless and random amounts across each tier.

Update (6:03pm ET)

Added information about the previous reports of Twitter failing to pay its cloud infrastructure bills.

Additional thoughts for influencers/creators:

  • Does this mean engagement metrics on Twitter are worth more given the scarcity?
  • Will people mute or unfollow accounts, and be more selective in who they choose to follow?
  • Creators will NEED off-platform comms channels.
  • Are tweet threads going to die? Instead, does Twitter Blue make more sense now to have longer posts instead of multiple that eat up limit usage?