Twitter users hit by ‘rate limit’ warnings as thousands left unable to tweet

Twitter users around the world have reported being unable to tweet or follow other accounts because of a bug linked to new limits on user activity on the platform.

On Wednesday, users began reporting seeing a message saying “rate limit exceeded” – meaning they had hit the site’s limit for the number of tweets or new accounts followed within a certain time period.

Twitter said it has the limits in place to ease the strain on the site and help it run more smoothly, but many users reported seeing the message while well below the limits – some said they had not previously tweeted that day, suggesting a bug in the system.

Twitter acknowledged the issue on Wednesday night, with the platform’s official support account tweeting: “Twitter may not be working as expected for some of you. Sorry for the trouble. We’re aware and working to get this fixed.”

Although limits around Twitter activity are not new, some thresholds have been lowered in recent months.

Similar restrictions have traditionally been used to protect against large-scale spam campaigns, stopping inauthentic accounts from tweeting messages and trying to follow other accounts relentlessly.

However, a page on Twitter’s online help centre shows the Elon Musk-owned platform is enforcing limits for all users as part of efforts to “alleviate some of the strain on the behind-the-scenes part of Twitter and reduce downtime and error pages”.

Twitter app
Twitter said it introduced the limits to help ease the strain on the site (PA)

The page says accounts will now be limited to sending 500 direct messages (DMs) a day, 2,400 tweets a day – including retweets – and following 400 new accounts each day.

The help centre says the daily tweet limit is “further broken down in semi-hourly intervals”, which may have caused the issue for some prolific Twitter users who saw the “rate limit exceeded” message.

The limits also say an account will only be allowed to follow 5,000 other accounts, with “additional follow attempts” after that threshold has been reached being “limited by account-specific ratios”.

Since taking over Twitter at the end of October and dismissing more than half of the platform’s 7,500-strong global workforce, experts have raised questions about the ability of Mr Musk and the now skeleton staff in some departments to keep the social media giant online.

Mr Musk has mocked such suggestions, but these tightened restrictions suggest there are some concerns inside Twitter about the platform’s ability to handle high traffic rates.

The help page also says the new limits “may be temporarily reduced during periods of heavy site usage”.

The incident comes as another major Musk-backed change to Twitter begins to roll out, with the introduction of a 4,000-character limit on tweets for subscribers to the paid-for Twitter Blue service.

The new limit will allow subscribers to post tweets substantially longer than those under the current 280-character limit, although some argue such long posts are against the original spirit of the site.