On the afternoon of June 30, Twitter suddenly blocked signed-out and unregistered users from accessing the website without prior notice. In addition, Twitter blocked Google Search, dropping more than half of the tweets indexed by Google.
As of July 1, Elon Musk, owner of Twitter, imposed limited access to everyone. It requires users to have a verified account, so they can view over 600 posts per day. Previously, even without a registered account, you can search and view content on Twitter.
But now, if you’re not login to your user account and you want to access Twitter, you can’t see any content that the wider public can view before. If you try visiting a Twitter page, a login prompt will appear, asking you to sign in or create a new account on the platform.
Therefore, anyone who isn’t on Twitter or doesn’t have a user account cannot view tweets and profiles or search threads on the platform. Furthermore, the Google Search of indexed URLs from Twitter significantly dropped by 62% in the past few days.
From 471 million tweets on June 30, it dropped to 309 million URLs indexed in Google Search on July 2 using the Google site commands. The drastic drop in index count happened after a new feature was added to Twitter, wherein registered and signed-in users can only view tweets.
Although the Google site commands aren’t accurate, the drop in indexed URLs is evident. Twitter didn’t even make a public announcement regarding what happened. Thus, it’s unclear if the sudden change was a technical mishap or intentional.
Meanwhile, Musk tweeted later on Friday that the sudden change was just a “Temporary emergency measure.” He tweeted, “We were getting data pillaged so much that it was degrading service for normal users!”
Also, Musk made another tweet reply to Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO, who complained paywalled and account-walled made web browsing horrible. Musk tweeted, “Several hundred organizations (maybe more) were scraping Twitter data extremely aggressively, to the point where it was affecting the real user experience. He also said, “What should we do to stop that? I’m open to ideas.”
According to the Twitter CEO, alleged groups have been data-scrapping the platform, violating its terms and conditions. The said group disguised their IPs by using proxy servers or legit-like organizations. For instance, Twitter recently suffered from massive data scraping that originated from Oracle IP addresses that used their servers as laundromats.
Musk said, “We absolutely will take legal action against those who stole our data and look forward to seeing them in court, which is (optimistically) 2 to 3 years from now.” On the other hand, according to recent reports, even users who pay for API access experienced bugs, unannounced updates, and no customer support.
That’s why it’s unclear if the recent issues on Twitter are caused by the changes Musk wants or the effect of his cut costs attempts after he laid off 80% of Twitter’s employees. As per Bloomberg, Twitter left its Google Cloud bill unpaid for several months before it resumed the payments.
So no matter how you try to access Twitter, whether it’s the homepage or a link to a profile or tweet, you should sign in to view the platform’s contents. If you want to use the platform’s key features, you should also pay a steep rate for a Twitter Blue subscription.