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Twitter Web Scraping - End of an Era?

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Justas Vitaitis

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Elon Musk continues to shock the online world with the latest statement about Twitter’s limits on how many tweets people can read daily. Even though the move was met with an outcry from users who began flocking to other platforms, Musk believes it’s the right way to address extreme levels of Twitter web scraping and prevent poor user experience.

Does Twitter really need this right now, and would this mean the end of Twitter data extraction?

What Is Going On?

Let’s start from the beginning. The first statement from the Twitter owner came a day after the platform suddenly started blocking access for people who aren’t logged in. Initially, he stated that verified accounts would see up to 6,000 posts, unverified accounts only 600 posts, and new unverified accounts only 300 posts a day.

The Backlash and Policy Changes

A few days later, he tweeted the new rate limits, which increased to 8,000 posts daily for verified accounts, 800 for unverified, and 400 for new, unverified accounts. On July 1st, Musk tweeted another limit increase , this time to 10,000, 1,000, and 500 posts daily.

Despite the rate limit refresh, no one likes the post-viewing restrictions imposed by the Twitter owner. Users are leaving the platform with the speed of a thousand Tweeties, and more companies are pausing their ad spending on Twitter.

But why did Elon Musk decide to chase away Twitter users and advertisers from the platform by introducing a rule that’s obviously not going to be supported by anyone?

Excuses vs.Truths

According to Musk, the limitations are necessary to prevent aggressive Twitter web scraping, which affects the real user experience. He blames AI companies who scrape the platform for data, which although true, many people think it’s just an excuse.

After all, Twitter is not the creator of the content available on the platform but the users themselves. Therefore, those scraping data from Twitter don’t deprive the company of anything. It’s publicly available data, so many argue that there’s nothing unethical about scraping it.

Since you can’t even see tweets without an account now, it’s possible Musk’s goal is to increase account creation. In fact, it’s probably one of his monetizing strategies to bring more users onto Twitter Blue, which is Twitter’s premium service.

This is not the first Elon’s move against AI companies since he bought Twitter. Being aware of Twitter’s data value, he executed a new three-tiered pricing structure for Twitter API earlier this year, with monthly pricing up to $210,000 for access to 200 million Twitter posts.

With so many competitors out there, including Mastodon and Bluesky, it’s a risky move to take, especially now when Meta is about to release Twitter’s biggest rival, Threads. Meta’s microblogging platform has launched and is looking pretty good , so could this be the final nail in Twitter’s coffin?

And what about all those businesses that need fresh and accurate Twitter data to make informed decisions?

This leads us to the next question, which is:

What Does This Mean for Twitter Web Scraping?

Twitter has free API access, but it’s limited. Although you can use it without worrying about blocks, there are certain limitations regarding the number of tweets you can extract in a minute and how far back in the past you can go.

Seeing the constant changes in Twitter’s rules, it’s not surprising that this one will also change over the years, months, or days. Elon only knows!

On the other hand, scraping is more efficient and provides more options. You can develop your own scraper or use existing ones and use proxies to gather data without any restrictions. The only thing that changes is the number of tweets you can access with a single account, but it’s not a big deal.

To avoid suspicion, scrapers already use multiple accounts with authentic residential proxies with IP addresses from real internet users. So, basically, introducing these changes doesn’t make that much of an impact.

Will It Still Be Possible to Perform Twitter Web Scraping With Proxies?

Yes, as long as you use reliable proxies from a trusty provider. Also, you have to choose the right type of proxies for this job if you want to scrape Twitter data efficiently without being noticed and banned by Twitter servers.

Using rotating proxies with multiple accounts is now the most effective method to do it. By rotating your IP address, these proxies will make your scraper requests look like they are coming from different Twitter accounts or users.

At the same time, they will keep your true IP address hidden so Twitter will never be able to detect your scraping activity or block you from accessing the platform. Read this blog post on what are rotating proxies to understand the topic better.

In the end, the new Twitter limitations will only affect actual Twitter users and those who use the API.

What Does the Future of Twitter Web Scraping Look Like?

It’s hard to say at this point. Web scrapers still have options, and using proxies seems like the easiest and most efficient method right now. We expect a surge in accounts made exclusively for scraping, so Musk will get the increase he wanted, even though these accounts won’t be authentic human users.

Logging in means accepting Twitter’s terms of service (which prohibit scraping), though. The methods that worked just days ago are slowly being neutralized one by one. As soon as there’s a reliable and efficient way to get back to scraping Twitter, we’ll cover it here. In any case, it will be interesting to see how things develop.

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Justas Vitaitis

Senior Software Engineer

Justas is a Senior Software Engineer with over a decade of proven expertise. He currently holds a crucial role in IPRoyal’s development team, regularly demonstrating his profound expertise in the Go programming language, contributing significantly to the company’s technological evolution. Justas is pivotal in maintaining our proxy network, serving as the authority on all aspects of proxies. Beyond coding, Justas is a passionate travel enthusiast and automotive aficionado, seamlessly blending his tech finesse with a passion for exploration.

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