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analysis

Why isn’t Twitter working? How Elon Musk finally broke his site – and why the internet might be about to get worse

Twitter’s problems are a part of a broader problem on the web – or at least Elon Musk would like people to see them that way, writes Andrew Griffin

Tuesday 04 July 2023 09:28 BST
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Musk tweeted this week that the term cis is a ‘slur’ (Alamy/PA)
Musk tweeted this week that the term cis is a ‘slur’ (Alamy/PA)

It started like any other outage: unexplained error messages that told users they had hit their “rate limit”, and Twitter posts refusing to load. But as the weekend progressed, it became clear that these weren’t just any old technical problems, but rather issues that could define the future not only of Twitter but of the internet.

Elon Musk took to Twitter on Saturday and announced that he would be introducing a range of changes “to address extreme levels of data scraping [and] system manipulation”. Users would only be able to see a limited number of posts, and those who are not logged in wouldn’t be able to see the site at all.

That decision triggered those error messages, since users were hitting the “rate limit” that meant they were requesting too many posts for Twitter to be able to handle. The new limits – apparently temporary, though still in effect – meant that users were being rationed on how many tweets they were able to see, and would see frustrating and unexplained messages when they actually hit that limit.

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