Why on Earth did Elon Musk throttle Twitter views?

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Over the weekend, Twitter owner Elon Musk announced sweeping controversial changes to Twitter, including a temporary tweet limit on how many posts people can read daily. He also announced that Twitter will prevent users not logged into an account from viewing tweets.

Musk attributed the temporary changes to an effort “to address extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation.” However, many creators are upset about this new policy, saying Twitter doesn’t care about their livelihoods and might be taking its last dying breath.

According to Musk’s post, verified users on Twitter (aka, those paying for Twitter Blue or with over 1 million followers) will temporarily only be able to read 6,000 posts each day, while unverified users will only be able to see 600 posts each day and completely new accounts will only be able to see 300 posts. 

On Saturday, thousands of users reported issues viewing tweets on the platform. In addition, TweetDeck, a Twitter-owned interface many creators use to schedule posts and upload to multiple accounts simultaneously, is also suffering. Many users reported the interface appears empty, with its various analytics failing to load

Creators Unite

Immediately, creators took to both Twitter and other platforms to express their discontent with the news. “Twitter is over,” TikToker Noah Glenn Carter said in a video. “This is absolutely insane, he’s just completely killed twitter for pretty basic daily users and virtually all content creators,” @wideofthepost tweeted. 

In typical Musk fashion, he left creators with a lot more questions than answers. What’s going on with TweetDeck? Does just scrolling through your feed count as “reading” posts, or do you need to interact with a tweet for it to count as a view? When will these temporary changes be over? What about the future of advertising on the platform? 

And most importantly, why on Earth would Musk choose to limit engagement on his own platform?

Why, Elon, Why?

Some users speculated that Musk implemented these changes because Twitter’s team is overwhelmed after recent layoffs, or even that Twitter is late on paying bills for certain servers and is throttling its own content to prevent consequences.

But also, Musk is notoriously anti-data-scraping, as demonstrated by the notorious API (Application Programming Interface) price spikes he implemented in March — which limited researchers and third-party companies from accessing Twitter’s backend code for learning purposes.

In December, he also famously shut down OpenAI’s access to Twitter because he said it wasn’t paying enough to access Twitter’s data (even though The New York Times reported OpenAI was paying over $2 million per year for the access).

But this kind of exclusivity in the world of free social media is inevitably going to be met with backlash. Also due to API price spikes, Reddit is facing an ongoing strike with moderators protesting cost raises. Hopefully, Twitter will face a similar reckoning soon (tweet boycott, anyone?)

A Broken Internet

Game developer Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted in opposition to the recent Twitter changes, saying: “The internet feels increasingly broken. News sites are paywalled or account walled, Reddit is nag walled, Google search spams ads and SEO to the point of uselessness, and now Twitter is account walled. Web browsing feels horrible now.”

It’s unclear when these changes might end and what permanent solution Elon Musk will suggest to address data-scraping.

However, what is clear is Twitter is growing more and more hostile by the minute. Beyond this latest shit show, the platform is thriving on extremist content and Musk’s consistent controversies. It’s difficult to monetize on the platform, and it’s clear that Twitter is under the whimsy of a giant who doesn’t seem to respect the needs of creators using his platform.

I think it’s time to start heading for bluer skies.

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