It looks like Twitter isn’t the only one having to turn to rate limits — or limits on how many posts users can view and other in-app activities. In an amusing turn of events, Twitter’s latest rival, Instagram Threads, announced this afternoon that it, too, has to tighten up on rate limits due to spam attacks. Laughed Twitter owner Elon Musk in a reply to a screenshot of the announcement posted on Twitter, “Lmaooo Copy 🐈 [cat].”
As you may recall, Twitter earlier this month had to enforce new limits on how many tweets users could read as the service suffered an extended outage. Explained Musk at the time, Twitter was facing “extreme levels of data scraping” from hundreds of organizations and other “system manipulation.” As a result, Twitter chose to curb the problem by initially allowing Verified users (paying subscribers) to peruse a maximum of 6,000 posts daily, while unverified users could only view 600. After some backlash from users, Musk later increased the limits to 10,000 for Verified accounts, 1,000 for unverified accounts, and 500 for new, unverified accounts.
Over the weekend, Musk said he would increase the rate limit again for Verified users by 50%, which implies they would now be able to see 15,000 posts.
Twitter had been criticized for its unorthodox solution to the spam and bot problem, which some suggested wouldn’t have been an issue if Twitter hadn’t laid off such a large swath of its engineering staff. After all, not being able to scroll the Twitter timeline for long periods of time had never been an issue in the pre-Elon days (except, of course, in the earliest years when the fail whale was a regular occurrence).
Now it seems even Meta’s new app isn’t immune to the problem of bots and spam.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained the problem in a post on the Threads app this afternoon, noting that “Spam attacks have picked up so we’re going to have to get tighter on things like rate limits, which is going to mean more unintentionally limiting active people (false positives). If you get caught up [in] those protections let us know.”
In other words, the most prolific Threads users may face limits on their ability to use the app and view posts. Mosseri didn’t specify exactly how the rate limits could impact users. However, unlike Twitter’s hard limits on viewable posts, Mosseri is suggesting that people reach out if they start to experience any problems with the new system. That sounds like the Threads team is prepared to work with legitimate users to not negatively impact their experience.
In the replies to Mosseri’s announcement, several people are complaining that comment spam on the platform has gotten significantly worse in recent days, with one person even remarking that half their posts were seeing a response from bots, like gambling-related bots or “bait” messages. Another complained they were wasting half their time blocking bots pushing gambling and crypto sites.
Without getting bots and spam under control, Threads will be in the same boat as Twitter. Copycat, indeed.