Tweet by NERV

EN_NERV/Twitter

Elon Musk’s X blocked natural disaster warning, information account for posting too much during Japan earthquake

'An account tweeting earthquake information gets rate limited for giving too much information.'

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

Posted on Jan 2, 2024   Updated on Jan 2, 2024, 11:49 am CST

An account providing real-time alerts on earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons in Japan was temporarily unable to post due to policies on Elon Musk’s X.

On Monday, the account, run by the disaster prevention app known as NERV, stated that it had been rate-limited by X shortly after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the west coast of Japan.

“Our accounts appear to have been rate-limited due to the frequent posting of information updates regarding the Ishikawa Earthquake and Tsunami,” NERV wrote. “We highly recommend that you download the NERV Disaster Prevention app in order to keep receiving updates.”

The announcement quickly stirred outrage on X, which has implemented numerous restrictions regarding the number of posts a user can make or view in the wake of Musk’s purchase.

“Here’s a really cool example of twitter still being necessary but actively becoming useless,” one user wrote. “An account tweeting earthquake information gets rate limited for giving too much information.”

As of Tuesday, the death toll in Japan rose to 55 people. Dozens of others have been injured.

Supporters of Musk, however, defended the billionaire’s decision to rate-limit accounts that had not signed up for an $8 per month subscription to the site.

“I don’t understand the complaints. X is a service requiring an $8/month fee,” another user said. “It’s not as if they individually exempt accounts from rate limits. The solution is simple – pay the $8. I’ll cover the cost.”

Yet critics were quick to note that NERV’s Japanese language account clearly had a blue checkmark on its profile, indicating that it was paying for premium access on X.

But NERV, according to others, would actually have to pay $5,000 per month to mass-post through the company’s API.

X eventually became aware of the issue on Monday after Musk was tagged in NERV’s thread by countless users.

“Thanks to everyone’s concern, X reached out to us to urgently complete the process of registering both @UN_NERV and @EN_NERV as ‘Public Utility’ accounts, resolving the issue of API rate-limiting,” NERV tweeted. “We are able to confirm that automatic posting of tweets has resumed as of 21:00.”

Despite Musk being the reason that such rate-limiting existed in the first place, the billionaire’s fans once again defended the billionaire.

Since Musk’s acquisition of the platform, many experts have feared that such a scenario would take place. In late 2022, WIRED even argued that “Elon Musk’s Twitter Isn’t Ready for the Next Natural Disaster.”

In March of last year, numerous official X accounts for the National Weather Service warned that they would no longer be able to send out all of its alerts due to Musk’s decisions.

To make matters worse, the site’s lax moderation practices have also led to an influx of misinformation during serious disasters.

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*First Published: Jan 2, 2024, 11:48 am CST