How Recent Twitter Changes Will Affect Businesses and Users

by | Jul 3, 2023

Twitter has been a valuable tool for many businesses since its creation, as, like other forms of social media, it’s used to communicate with customers. That can include everything from sharing blog content to giving updates on products and services. Since early Friday, new Twitter changes have impacted how users view content, leading to many businesses and users wondering how it will affect them.

Twitter can’t be browsed anymore unless logged in. Tweets are still viewable when embedded on other websites. They also re-enabled direct links, which will show the Tweet linked to and the comments, but won’t let people further navigate the website while logged out. A Twitter rate limit was also added on Saturday for registered users, with Elon Musk tweeting a hard cap on how many posts can be viewed daily. As of writing, those limits are as follows:

  • Verified accounts: 6000 posts per day.
  • Unverified accounts: 600 posts per day.
  • New unverified accounts: 300 posts per day.

Once a user reaches that number, further attempts at browsing will get a message saying, “Rate limit exceeded.” Those numbers are planned to be raised to 10,000 for verified, 1000 for unverified, and 500 for new unverified, though Musk gave no timeline. Due to the Twitter changes, there may have unintended consequences for businesses and users alike.

The Early Impact of These Twitter Changes

Most of the early impact will be felt by one of two groups: registered users active for over an hour a day and unregistered users who no longer have access. What’s counted as a “post” isn’t just the initial Tweet but all the comments in response. So, when users scroll through a comment chain, they’re burning through their post limit for the day.

While verification makes the limit ten times higher, it’s locked behind their Twitter Blue subscription, which starts at $8 monthly. Business verification can be much more costly, starting at $1,000 per month + $50 per handle, and presumedly falls within the same limitations.

Average Users Likely Won’t Notice the Twitter Changes

A recent study shows users spend 4.4 hours per month on Twitter. That translates to less than 9 minutes per day, which is likely where they started when looking at the initial restrictions. The 600-post limit factors in the higher end of everyday usage habits. That means for the average unverified user, even if they spend 15-20 minutes using Twitter daily, they likely won’t hit the new restriction.

Emergency Services & Updates Might Be Less Accessible

One side effect of the Twitter changes is how they impact emergency services that actively use Twitter accounts. If they provide regular updates and communicate with customers, they may run into the rate limit without paying for a Twitter Blue subscription. That can lead to situations where they’re unable to give critical updates during an emergency.

On the opposite end, while unregistered users can view single Tweets that are linked externally, they won’t be able to view the account’s feed directly. That means they may miss urgent details about a recent disaster or local problem. Twitter has been a preferred platform for those types of communications because they are open-access and quick to read. That means unless Twitter pulls back some of the restrictions, they may have to investigate other options for delivering emergency updates.

Twitter Changes May Harm Advertisers and Marketing

Stopping nonregistered users from being able to view Twitter cut down the number of eyes that are viewing any given Tweet. For both advertisers and marketing teams, fewer views mean a lower value from using the platform.

There may also be an impact from rate limiting the most active users. The more time people spend on Twitter, the more ads and business marketing material they can view. That means if they’re stonewalled from viewing content, it also prevents them from seeing more advertisements. It’s difficult to predict the extent, but there will be some negative effects during the early adjustment period.

Some Businesses Will Have to Shift Content Strategies

Like with emergency services, some businesses use Twitter for outreach and engagement with customers and other companies. Depending on their time and resources in social media, they’re more likely to hit that daily limit without paying for Twitter Blue. If they rely on publicly viewable updates, they may also have to consider alternate ways to reach customers.

Short-term, heavier free users will be more selective with what they view, meaning less organic discovery through searches or hashtags. However, those types of users browse enough content that they’re likely not as engaged with any one thing. That means even if follower growth slows down, there may be little change in overall activity, as someone who follows hundreds of accounts is not engaging with each one daily.

Rate Limits Will Pressure Active Free Users

The shift to requiring users to log in isn’t unexpected, as many websites like LinkedInInstagram, and Facebook already restrict access in different ways. However, the rate limit is the more surprising Twitter change that other platforms aren’t doing. With only 0.2% of monthly active users in the U.S. subscribed to Twitter Blue as of February 2023, the vast majority of users fall within both unverified limits.

The rate limit will likely increase subscribers but may pressure some active free users off the platform. Since each comment counts as a post, the more they read and talk with others, the quicker they’ll be restricted for the day and look elsewhere to do the same thing. Mastodon, one of their newer competitors, has reported triple the active users this weekend due to the Twitter changes.

Multiple Accounts Can Be Used To Bypass Limitations

Considering Twitter has 330 million monthly active users, it’s a massive platform with a devoted following. While some active users may leave, others may consider alternate ways to get around the Twitter changes. The easiest would be creating multiple accounts, as Twitter has few restrictions. That may lead to incorrect activity tracking and inflated follower numbers, especially if they set each account to follow the same people.

AI Is a Major Reason Behind These Twitter Changes

These changes are due to “address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation.” While it wasn’t explicitly mentioned, AI is one of the driving reasons for this change. It’s a fast-growing and very profitable market that was jump-started by the ease of gathering conversations online for free. Twitter isn’t the only company making drastic changes in recent months, either. Reddit made API changes due to similar concerns.

Companies like OpenAI have collected information from major websites across the internet to train their ChatGPT AI. They harvested data cheaply, which was then used to drive sales for their for-profit branch. While it’s a gray area, companies underestimated the value of their own publicly viewable data and conversation. That means future social media will continue to reduce that ease of access while still trying to keep the platforms usable.

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

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