Twitter owner Elon Musk’s decision last weekend to temporarily limit user activity in an effort, according to Musk, to “address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation” may be reaping some results the world’s richest man was not expecting.

Musk’s first communique via Twitter on Saturday said the new policy would limit verified account users to viewing 6,000 posts per day, limit unverified account holders to 600 post views per day and new users to 300 post views per day. A few hours later, that policy pronouncement had evolved to limits of 10,000 post views for verified users (which isn’t really a verification mechanism as much as it is simply a blue check that comes with subscription fees), 1,000 views for longer-term, non blue check users and 500 post views per day for new users.

In a tweet on June 30, the day before declaring the new activity limitations for Twitter users, Musk said “drastic & immediate” action was necessary due to companies developing artificial intelligence tools “scraping vast amounts of data” as part of the process used to train so-called “large language model” with information culled from the internet.

But Musk’s decision has led to widespread backlash from Twitter users who are running into usage roadblocks thanks to the new limits, new problems with the functionality of the platform that appear to be linked to the efforts to enforce the new limits and, perhaps most significantly, further erosion of advertiser confidence in the company.

And that last one really matters since ad buys provide the vast majority of Twitter’s revenues.

Some industry watchers believe Musk’s decision to temporarily limit user activity to thwart AI bots from harvesting info from the platform is serving to undermine the efforts of new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino.

Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal advertising executive, is widely seen as a hire who was well suited to revive Twitter’s declining revenue streams by building confidence, and spending, among advertisers who have fled the platform amid Musk’s mercurial leadership style and ad hoc policy changes.

But, Mike Proulx, research director at Forrester, told Reuters on Sunday that Musk’s declaration of limits was “remarkably bad” for users and advertisers already shaken by the “chaos” Musk has brought to the platform since acquiring the social media platform for $44 billion last October.

“The advertiser trust deficit that Linda Yaccarino needs to reverse just got even bigger,” Proulx said. “And it cannot be reversed based on her industry credibility alone.”

Lou Paskalis, the founder of advertising consultancy AJL Advisory and former marketing boss at Bank of America, told Reuters that Yaccarino is Musk’s “last best hope” to salvage ad revenue and the company’s value.

View Comments

“This move signals to the marketplace that he’s not capable of empowering her to save him from himself,” Paskalis said.

Olivia Wedderburn, an executive at creative agency TMW Unlimited, said she was advising her clients to “stop investing in Twitter immediately,” because the platform was turning away heavily engaged users, which she said is the “sole reason” to advertise on Twitter, according to Reuters.

On top of undermining Yaccarino’s ability to perform her new job, industry watchers also noted that Musk’s new rules were driving record traffic to Bluesky, a Twitter competitor backed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.

Bluesky is an emerging text-based social media outlet built on open-source code that is currently functioning as an invite-only platform. The company said in a post Saturday that its systems were experiencing “some degraded performance as a result of record-high traffic” per a report by CNBC. The platform also had to temporarily pause sign-ups to address performance issues but had resumed sign-ups late Sunday.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.