Elon Musk Sparks Controversy With Twitter Rate Limits — Censorship Expert Says Musk ‘Has Stepped on a Rattlesnake’
Social media giant Twitter has imposed limits on user accounts due to “extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation,” said Tesla CEO and Twitter chief Elon Musk. The billionaire “has no idea the DARPA rattlesnake he just stepped on by doing this,” a censorship expert stressed, revealing that the U.S. censorship industry needs to “scrape hundreds of millions of tweets” in order to “build their social media censorship death star.”
Twitter Imposes Rate Limits Citing ‘Extreme Levels of Data Scraping’
Tesla CEO and Twitter chief Elon Musk has stirred up controversy by implementing temporary rate limits on the number of tweets users can read daily. The billionaire explained in a tweet on Saturday that these limits were introduced to combat excessive data scraping and system manipulation on the social media platform.
Verified Twitter accounts can read up to 6,000 posts per day, while unverified accounts are limited to 600 posts, and new unverified accounts can only read 300 posts per day, according to Musk’s initial announcement. The Tesla boss further tweeted that the rate limits would soon be increased to 8,000 for verified users, 800 for unverified users, and 400 for new unverified users. Subsequently, the billionaire stated that the limits would be further raised to 10,000, 1,000, and 500 respectively.
Many people slammed Musk for introducing the rate limits. “This is a terrible move by Musk. User engagement and interactions will drastically decline,” one warned. “A social media that is trying to limit engagement is not a place that is welcoming its users … on that note bye,” another wrote.
CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) offered his advice on the matter: “Viewing should not be limited. Posting and commenting should be. No humans post more than 800 posts per day.” In a follow-up tweet, he revised his suggestion: “Actually, only commenting need to be limited. IMO.”
Musk Steps on the DARPA Rattlesnake, Says Censorship Expert
The decision to impose daily limits followed a rising trend of AI programs massively scraping tweets, including the widely used Chatgpt. Following the implementation of the limits by Twitter, users reported that Chatgpt informed them that it could no longer access tweets.
Referencing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military, Mike Benz, executive director of the Foundation for Freedom Online, tweeted Saturday:
Musk has no idea the DARPA rattlesnake he just stepped on by doing this.
Commenting on the new Twitter rate limit controversy “from the perspective of the censorship industry,” he claimed that what Musk did has “wide-ranging implications for the science of censorship,” noting that “AI censorship is where all of the magic happens.”
Benz explained that the Twitter files revealed that while the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could potentially censor 22 tweets, AI technology, such as Enterprise Intelligence Platform (EIP) and other censorship groups, enabled the censorship of 22 million tweets. “It’s a completely different animal. You could not censor the internet before 2016 at the kind of scale that you do now because you have AI censorship models … There’s an AI censorship death star that has been under construction, innovation, and renovation every week, every month, every year, for the past six, seven years now,” he detailed. “It all relies on massive scraping of Twitter data in order to build these models and databases to track trending narratives, to systematically surveil and build intelligence dossiers, and to track and to turn down, all at once, communities online.”
The Foundation for Freedom Online’s executive director added that these AI models “map real-time narrative emergence on Twitter in a way you can’t do on any other social media platform,” noting that they have been used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the state department, the defense department, hundreds of government-funded NGOs, centers, and non-profit foundations. He emphasized:
In order to build their social media censorship death star, they need to scrape hundreds of millions of tweets.
Benz asserted that on the one hand what Musk is doing is “limiting the openness of the internet,” but on the other hand he is “actually, potentially preserving the openness of the internet by preventing the construction of this censorship death star that is getting more and more refined every day, and is getting funded by your tax dollars to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from DARPA, and the National Science Foundation, to say nothing about the state department and the National Endowment for Democracy grants.”
While Benz stated he is not sure whether Musk is restricting Twitter views “to throttle the AI censorship death star” or whether he is doing it to “pump up the subscription base, or a privacy reason, independent of censorship,” he stressed:
Whether Musk knows it or not, he has stepped on a rattlesnake … There are going to be hundreds of censorship operatives, housed within the university research centers, this week howling at the moon that this is an attack on democracy for Musk to limit their access.
“If they lose access to the underlying data on which their AI censorship models are built, then they will not be able to do their jobs as effective, fast, precise, and comprehensive asocial media censors,” Benz clarified.
What do you think about Twitter imposing rate limits? Do you agree with Mike Benz about the implications of the limits on censorship? Let us know in the comments section below.