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Twitter blocks unregistered people from accessing tweets, Elon Musk calls it a “temporary emergency measure” to prevent data pillage

Elon Musk said that hundreds of organizations or more were scraping Twitter data "extremely aggressively", affecting user experience.

On Saturday, Twitter started blocking unregistered users from browsing through the social media platform. The move came without any prior announcement, initially causing confusion if it was an intentional update or some technical glitch. However, Twitter owner Elon Musk confirmed in reply to a tweet that it is a “temporary emergency measure” as he claimed that data pillaging is degrading the service for all users. 

“Temporary emergency measure. We were getting data pillaged so much that it was degrading service for normal users!” Musk replied.

He said that hundreds of organizations or more were scraping Twitter data “extremely aggressively”, affecting user experience.

Musk claimed, in response to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney’s tweet complaining about how pay and account walls break the internet, that “several hundred organisations (maybe more) were scraping Twitter data extremely aggressively, to the point where it was affecting the real user experience.”

Before this change, people without accounts had limited access to the platform, such as viewing public tweets and user profiles but not liking or commenting.

Previously, users could view tweets or profiles without requiring to log into the platform. However, after they had scrolled past an unspecified number of tweets, a window used to appear preventing readers from viewing additional posts until they signed in. This allowed limited access to the platform without registering.

However, now all the links to access Twitter, be it the homepage or a direct link to a tweet or profile, the viewer is directed to a sign-in prompt. But tweets embedded in reports seems to be working without requiring sign-in.

Notably, Elon Musk has previously expressed his displeasure with AI companies such as OpenAI that use Twitter data to train their language models. After acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk cut off OpenAI’s access to Twitter’s data, holding that the AI firm was not paying enough for it. However, OpenAI has since released a plugin for its popular ChatGPT AI chatbot that allows users to scrape data from any website, including Twitter.

In the month of June, Musk twice expressed his displeasure with AI companies using Twitter data. On June 14, Musk in response to a tweet pointing at ChatGPT browsing Twitter, wrote, “Interesting, given that OpenAI has no authorised X/Twitter feed.”

In response to a Twitter thread demonstrating how ChatGPT is scrapping Twitter data Musk wrote, “This is very concerning.”

It is worth mentioning that this is not the first product change Musk has made after taking over the social media giant last year. 

In March this year, Twitter started charging for the use of its application programming interface (API). In addition to academic researchers, popular third-party apps such as the now-defunct Tweetbot and Twitterific used Twitter’s API. Customers are now charged $42,000 per month to access only 1% of tweets on Twitter. 

Musk temporarily disabled likes, replies, and retweets in April if a tweet contained a link to Substack, the newsletter platform. Musk later reversed the change in response to complaints.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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