Twitter blocks non-users from reading tweets over AI data scraping

In an effort to curb the effects of AI data scraping, Twitter is no longer allowing individuals to view tweets on the social media platform unless they're logged into an account.

T(w)itter Daily News posted about the news Friday afternoon on the platform, but according to Twitter owner Elon Musk, the new policy won’t last forever.

“Twitter's web version no longer allows users to browse without logging in, @TitterDaily posted.

“All urls redirect to the signup page,” the tweet said.

“This is believed to be a measure to make it harder for scrapers to take Twitter's data, like ChatGPT's web browsing plugin has been doing,” it said.

A few hours later, Twitter owner Elon Musk confirmed not only the rumor of redirected URLs but also the reason behind the platform’s move to block unregistered users from freely navigating the site.

“Temporary emergency measure. We were getting data pillaged so much that it was degrading service for normal users!,” Musk responded with his own tweet.

Musk did not mention how long the new rule will stay in effect, but for now, non-Twitter account holders who try and view their favorite tweets will be asked to sign up for an account or log into an existing account.

The tech billionaire has previously called out AI firms, such as OpenAI, for using Twitter's data to train their large language models.

Musk said hundreds of organizations or more were scraping Twitter data "extremely aggressively," affecting user experience.

"We absolutely will take legal action against those who stole our data & look forward to seeing them in court, which is (optimistically) 2 to 3 years from now," he said.

Data scraping lawsuits increase

AI data or content scraping, also known as web harvesting, is when one computer program will extract valuable information already generated by another program or website.

Due to the generative AI boom, massive numbers of automated scraper bots have been gathering data/knowledge to feed to their chatbots.

Those bots, similar to a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), can overwhelm a website with traffic resulting in its poor performance – as Musk implied is happening with Twitter’s platform.

In May, Musk’s lawyers sent a letter addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, asking the tech giant to conduct an audit of its use of Twitter's content.

The letter accuses Microsoft of violating an agreement over using the social media company's data.

In April, Twitter also removed the ability for unregistered users to utilize the search bar, according to T(w)itter Daily News.

"This latest move by Twitter is likely linked to Elon discovering earlier this month that ChatGPT can scrape Twitter data via its web extension," T(w)itter Daily News tweeted Friday.

"Elon previously cut off ChatGPT's access to Twitter data and has begun a lawsuit against OpenAI/Microsoft," it said, referring to a Twitter blog post by Whole Mars Blog on June 13th claiming that "AI can even browse Twitter for us now."

"Interesting, given that OpenAI has no authorized X/Twitter feed, Musk tweeted back.

In another complaint about its data scraping, two US authors filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against OpenAI for misusing their works to train its popular generative AI chatbot ChatGPT.

According to the two authors' complaint, OpenAI has scraped data from over 300,000 books without permission to train its ChatGPT protege.

The class action suit is just one of several legal filings against AI companies over what and how material is used to train cutting-edge artificial intelligence.

Besides OpenAI, source code owners and visual artists have also filed suit against Microsoft's GitHub, Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt for similar copyright infringement violations.

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