Elon and Co. will love this.
Amid rising issues with data scraping, as generative AI projects look for inputs to feed into their systems, and scammers seek out new vulnerabilities in apps, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has announced that they’ll be introducing tighter rate limits on Threads, its new Twitter-like app.
As outlined by Mosseri, Meta’s implementing rate limits to protect users from spam attacks in the new app, but it may also be related to data scraping, which was the key motivator for Twitter introducing its own rate limits recently, which have been widely criticized by Twitter users and tech analysts alike.
Twitter’s rate limits left many people locked out of the app, after reaching a certain amount of viewed tweets. Twitter owner Elon Musk explained that the move was necessary ‘to address extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation’, while also pointing to generative AI projects as the key cause, which could potentially have overloaded Twitter’s servers.
This will be unlocked shortly. Per my earlier post, drastic & immediate action was necessary due to EXTREME levels of data scraping.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2023
Almost every company doing AI, from startups to some of the biggest corporations on Earth, was scraping vast amounts of data.
It is rather…
Twitter has since increased its rate limits, with paying subscribers able to view more content than non-Twitter Blue members. The whole situation had been framed as another example of Elon Musk’s failure in managing the app, and misunderstanding the social media ecosystem.
And now, Meta’s seemingly doing the same, though there is a significant variance in the approaches taken by both apps, in that Instagram's limiting rapid actions, like mass follows an comments, and Twitter has restricted how many tweets a user can view. They're similar in approach, but different in terms of their focus.
Even so, Elon has responded in his usual restrained way:
Lmaooo— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 17, 2023
It’s difficult to know what the impacts of these new rate limits will be on Threads users, and how many people will be affected by the restrictions. But as Mosseri notes, those who think that they’ve been rate limited unfairly can contact Instagram to address the situation.
It’s not ideal, but it’s seemingly a necessary step, as it may well be in Twitter's case, in order to stop third parties from manipulating social media systems, and/or taking data without permission.
And without an API, there’s no other way to utilize Threads data other than through mass actions or scraping.
It's a new consideration in the age of generative AI development, though again, the rate limits implemented by Meta are different to Twitter's more AI-specific approach.