Elon Musk, SpaceX Falcon 9, launch
Elon Musk. Photo credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA / Wikimedia

When reporting on Twitter glitches, it’s a good idea not to take Elon Musk’s explanations at face value.

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According to Twitter owner Elon Musk, “extreme levels of data scraping” and “system manipulation” were to blame for why the users of the social media site could only see a limited number of tweets on Saturday. As a political journalist, I can’t explain to you what that means. However, as someone who covers narcissists for a living, I can tell you that news outlets shouldn’t just believe Musk.

Bafflingly, most of them seemed to just take him at his word.

Here is how it started: After many users had been receiving a message saying that they had exceeded their “rate limits,” Musk posted the following tweet to explain why his website wasn’t working properly:

Over the next five hours, these rate limits were increased twice… apparently, the “extreme levels of data scraping” and “system manipulation” weren’t so bad after all.

A lot of news outlets just went with it.

For example, here is how The New York Times covered it:

Elon Musk said on Saturday that Twitter will temporarily limit the number of posts users can read per day to address concerns over data scraping, just hours after thousands of users reported widespread problems using the site.

And here is The Washington Post:

Elon Musk announced Saturday that Twitter will temporarily limit the number of tweets users can read per day — with separate limits for paid and unpaid users — to combat computer programs that comb through posts to extract useful data from the platform.

Both pointed out that on Friday, Musk had already announced an “emergency measure” that required people to log in to their accounts to browse Twitter because the site was “getting data pillaged” to a degree that degraded the service for regular users.

However, neither took into account that Musk is a narcissist who has been making a lot of questionable decisions since buying Twitter but would never admit that his own incompetence would cause users to experience problems.

And neither mentioned a recent scoop from the insider publication Platformer, which reported that Twitter stopped paying Google and Amazon for hosting some of the social media site’s services.

According to Platformer, Musk’s refusal to pay his Google Cloud bills came at a time when Twitter’s contract for the service was up for renewal at the end of June.

The insider publication also reported that Twitter was scrambling to remove its services from Google Cloud prior to the June 30 deadline but was falling behind.

Now, if you are keeping track of the timeline, you will notice that Twitter’s issues began right when that deadline hit.

That could all be a coincidence, of course. However, it does seem like that is something worth mentioning instead of simply parroting what a narcissistic billionaire has to say who has every reason to try to cover up his own poor decision-making.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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