Recent changes at Twitter have resulted in some turbulent times, including the overhaul of the once free blue-tick system and the recent announcement of limitations on the number of posts users can view per day.
To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we’ve applied the following temporary limits:
- Verified accounts are limited to reading 6000 posts/day
- Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day
- New unverified accounts to 300/day
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2023
While the latest announcement, regarding post limits, has been attributed to "EXTREME levels of data scraping" by Elon Musk, many believe the real cause is the downgrading of servers at Twitter as a cost-saving measure – making the infrastructure unable to handle the volume of posts on the site. Musk appears eager to blame the rise of AI for this latest issue, stating, "It is rather frustrating to have to bring a large number of servers online on an emergency basis just to support the outrageous valuation of some AI start-up."
Naturally, this has caused some concern among clients and insights teams who rely on Twitter for social listening. However, large social listening tools, including those used at Four for our proprietary Mapper360® insights, do not use data scraping as described by Musk. Instead, they access data through the API firehose.
The difference between the two methods is that API access is more robust and reliable. Data scraping is akin to manually collecting specific information from a website, similar to copying information from a book. API firehose access is like receiving a constant flow of real-time updates from a data source, similar to having a direct line to a news reporter, instead of copying from their articles once posted.
At Four, we are aware that changes at Twitter are ongoing and evolving. That's why we have never solely relied on Twitter for listening. Over the past 12 months, our Mapper360® analysts have been expanding our listening capabilities and methodologies across other channels such as LinkedIn, Reddit, and Instagram as well as forums – with Tik Tok currently in development. This is not only crucial for our clients, as their audiences are naturally present on these channels, but also for safeguarding our valued services.
In addition to the concerning news from Twitter, there has been some promising information from Meta about their new channel called "Threads." It appears that the channel is emerging from the stagnation it has experienced in recent years and coming back fighting – not only between the two founders – but in the race to be the top short-form texted based channel.
Threads, as suggested by promotional images, is focused on finding communities and sharing opinions, something that Musk has been criticised for limiting on Twitter following his takeover. The channel is set to launch on July 6, 2023, for US accounts and the following day for the rest of the world.
We are currently in discussions regarding how we can access this channel and whether it will follow a similar approach to Facebook, post the Cambridge Analytica scandal, or adopt a more open approach like its sister channel Instagram. However, just as we have developed methodologies to gather data and insights from harder-to-access channels in the past, we will ensure that we have the best and most reliable access possible to this emerging channel and any others in the future.
If you want to understand more about the changes or our listening capabilities please do reach out to email@example.com
By Celia Dearden-Briggs