Why is Twitter down? Elon Musk touts "drastic measures" and bombshell rate limits

San Francisco, California - Thousands of Twitter users worldwide reported issues as they tried to access the platform on Saturday, right after CEO Elon Musk announced restrictions would affect the social media site.

On Saturday morning, Twitter users received error messages with "rate limit exceeded."
On Saturday morning, Twitter users received error messages with "rate limit exceeded."  © Collage: Constanza Hevia/AFP & Screenshot/Twitter

Twitter has been down for many users, who got a message in the morning of "rate limit exceeded" or "cannot retrieve tweets" when trying to access the site on mobile and desktop.

The top trending topics on Twitter have since become "Elon" and expressions of frustration, including "Damn Twitter," "Oh Twitter," and "Wtf Twitter."

The site reportedly responded to multiple news outlets' request for comment with an automated poop emoji.

Around 12:30 PM EST, Musk tweeted: "To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we've applied the following temporary limits: Verified accounts are limited to reading 6000 posts/day, Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day, New unverified accounts to 300/day."

This comes after Twitter appeared to be restricting access to anyone not logged into a Twitter account, and also halted the ability to embed tweets in chat apps.

Musk replied to a comment highlighting these new issues on Friday, saying this would be "unlocked shortly" and that "drastic & immediate action was necessary due to EXTREME levels of data scraping."

"Almost every company doing AI, from startups to some of the biggest corporations on Earth, was scraping vast amounts of data," he wrote. "It is rather galling to have to bring large numbers of servers online on an emergency basis just to facilitate some AI startup’s outrageous valuation."

It is unclear whether Saturday's error messages are related to Musk's comments or are an unrelated glitch.

Why is Twitter Down? Elon Musk responds to criticism

Are the new error messages part of Elon Musk's changes to Twitter?
Are the new error messages part of Elon Musk's changes to Twitter?  © Alain Jocard/AFP

Twitter has long relied on easy access to tweets. What has now changed, and how long will the problems persist?

Replying to another user, Musk revealed on Friday that "several hundred organizations (maybe more) have been extremely aggressive in tapping Twitter data," so much so that "the user experience has been compromised."

The companies then used that data, Musk claimed, to illegally train their artificial intelligence programs.

In March, Musk joined a group of tech experts in signing an open letter asking AI developers to pause their efforts for six months in favor of a dialog to explore the dangers of computers replacing humans in the workforce.

Yet he raised eyebrows by quietly incorporating his own new AI company just beforehand.

Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion last October and has been widely criticized for instating in a variety of new policies.

Musk has started requiring users to pay for blue verification check marks to up its profits, rolled back protections against hate speech, and until recently, had begun labeling certain media outlets as "government-funded." He has also instituted sweeping layoffs of Twitter employees and lost many advertisers.

It's unclear if the latest Twitter outage is ushering in more changes.

UPDATE, 3:05 PM EST: Elon Musk updates daily post reading restrictions

On Saturday afternoon, Musk updated his figures in a new tweet.

"Rate limits increasing soon to 8000 for verified, 800 for unverified & 400 for new unverified," he wrote.

There are widespread questions among users on what the restrictions on "reading posts" actually means, as "RIP Twitter" is trending.

UPDATE, 6:02 PM EST: Elon Musk changes daily post reading limit once again

Twitter users are now are asking: what's really going on here?

Musk tweeted again on Saturday just before 6 PM EST, raising the limit on the number of posts Twitter users can read.

"Now to 10k, 1k & 0.5k," he wrote – for verified, unverified, and new unverified accounts, respectively.

Users are waiting to see if the numbers will keep increasing to be allowed to read an unlimited amount of posts once again.

Cover photo: Collage: Constanza Hevia/AFP, Alain Jocard/AFP, & Screenshot/Twitter

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