Home » The Story Behind Elon Musk’s Tweet Restriction Fiasco

The Story Behind Elon Musk’s Tweet Restriction Fiasco

by Green Zak
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While the finer factors of working a social media enterprise might be debated, one fundamental fact is that all of them run on consideration. Tech leaders are incentivized to develop their person bases so there are extra individuals extra advertisements for extra time. It’s simply good enterprise.

As the proprietor of Twitter, Elon Musk presumably shared that purpose. But he claimed he hadn’t purchased Twitter to earn money. This freed him as much as give attention to different passions: stopping rival tech corporations from scraping Twit­ter’s information with out permission—even when it meant dropping eyeballs on advertisements.

Data-scraping was a identified downside at Twitter. “Scraping was the open secret of Twitter information entry. We knew about it. It was high-quality,” Yoel Roth wrote on the Twitter ­different Bluesky. AI companies specifically have been no­torious for gobbling up large swaths of textual content to coach giant language fashions. Now that these companies have been value some huge cash, the scenario was removed from high-quality, in Musk’s opinion.

In November 2022, OpenAI debuted ChatGPT, a chatbot that would generate convincingly human textual content. By January 2023, the app had over 100 million customers, making it the quickest ­rising shopper app of all time. Three months later, OpenAI secured one other spherical of funding that closed at an astounding valuation of $29 billion, greater than Twitter was value, by Musk’s estimation.

OpenAI was a sore topic for Musk, who’d been one of many unique founders and a serious donor earlier than stepping down in 2018 over disagree­ments with the opposite founders. After ChatGPT launched, Musk made no secret of the truth that he disagreed with the guardrails that OpenAI placed on the chatbot to cease it from relaying harmful or insensitive infor­mation. “The hazard of coaching AI to be woke—in different phrases, lie—is lethal,” Musk mentioned on December 16, 2022. He was toying with beginning a competitor.

Near the top of June 2023, Musk launched a two-part offensive to cease information scrapers, first directing Twitter workers to briefly block “logged out view.” The change would imply that solely individuals with Twitter accounts may view tweets.

“Logged out view” had an advanced historical past at Twitter. It was rumored to have performed a component within the Arab Spring, permitting dissidents to view tweets with out having to create a Twitter account and danger compromising their anonymity. But it was additionally an quick access level for individuals who needed to scrape Twitter information.

Once Twitter made the change, Google was briefly blocked from crawling Twitter and serving up related tweets in search results—a transfer that would negatively affect Twitter’s visitors. “We’re conscious that our potential to crawl Twitter.com has been restricted, affecting our potential to show tweets and pages from the positioning in search outcomes,” Google spokesperson Lara Levin informed The Verge. “Websites have management over whether or not crawlers can entry their content material.” As engineers mentioned potential workarounds on Slack, one wrote: “Surely this was anticipated when that call was made?”

Then engineers detected an “explosion of logged in requests,” in keeping with inner Slack messages, indicating that information scrapers had merely logged in to Twitter to proceed scraping. Musk ordered the change to be reversed.

On July 1, 2023, Musk launched half two of the offensive. Suddenly, if a person scrolled for just some minutes, an error message popped up. “Sorry, you’re price restricted,” the message learn. “Please wait a couple of moments then strive once more.”

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