As first appeared in The Western Journal
By Aron Solomon
Over the long holiday weekend, Twitter users worldwide grappled with challenges while attempting to tweet or follow other accounts. These difficulties stemmed from a bug that arose as a result of recent restrictions imposed on user activity on the platform.
On Saturday, frustrated users took to Twitter to voice their concerns, indicating that they were receiving “rate limit exceeded” notifications. This essentially meant that they had surpassed the platform’s predefined limit for the number of tweets or new accounts they could engage with within a specific timeframe.
It was an interesting intellectual exercise (or an excellent riddle) to search for the issue on Twitter:
A significant number of users encountered error messages such as the above when accessing or posting content on Twitter’s website or mobile app. By 11 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, over 7,300 individuals had reported issues with Twitter on the website Downdetector.
When CNBC, among many others, I’m sure, reached out with questions, Twitter responded with its customary poop emoji.
This outage was not the first instance of technical difficulties experienced by Twitter in recent months. In February, users could not post on the site for approximately 90 minutes after being notified, “You are over the daily limit for sending Tweets.” In March, users faced temporary difficulties clicking on links or loading images.
As for the nature of this outage, it was simply a massive bug that impacted Twitter systems around the world at the same time for millions of people.
When Twitter was back up at around 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Elon Musk did what he always did, which is tweet without giving it a lot of forethought:
To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we’ve applied the following temporary limits:— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2023
– Verified accounts are limited to reading 6000 posts/day
– Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day
– New unverified accounts to 300/day
If Musk permanently implements what he’s talking about in this tweet, it is going to be a very expedient way to drive the value of Twitter down to fractions of a penny on the dollar from what he paid.
There’s no way that the massive number of unverified users, including myself, will stay on Twitter with actual limitations on what we can view. That literally runs counter to the entire idea of Twitter.
As attorney Michael Epstein observed, “It remains uncertain whether Saturday’s outage will ultimately be resolved or if it will persist as a recurring technical issue. If it does, users will have a strong argument that Twitter isn’t meeting its obligations under their terms of service.”
What is certain is that silly season is firmly upon us when it comes to Twitter and Elon Musk. As was first reported back in March, Musk has a history of deferring payment on Twitter’s bills for cloud storage. While Musk’s stated reasoning behind the outage was user system manipulation, a lot of people believe Twitter again simply didn’t pay its cloud bills.
Ultimately, what this appears to be is pretty clear — a petulant Elon Musk trying everything possible to get people to pay him $8 per month for his remarkably ill-conceived new verification checkmark. People haven’t wanted to pay in anywhere near the volumes Musk had anticipated, so it’s conceivable that anything he can do to threaten users with a limited free service is worth a try.
But it also might not be. The aftermath of this weekend’s outage is outrage, and not the kind Twitter can usually quite easily endure.
My sentiment analysis suggests that this isn’t the usual 24-hour Twitter storm in which many people threaten to leave but generally don’t. A lot of people are genuinely questioning whether Musk has allowed Twitter to fall into disrepair, leaving users with a fundamentally unusable platform.
If that view of the Twittersphere remains, the events of this past weekend will have been historic in the worst possible way for Elon Musk.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the chief legal analyst for Esquire Digital. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, Crunchbase, Variety, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.