Twitter has always been looking for better ways to combat spammers and it appears they have recently added a new measure to combat one aspect of gaming.
User can now only follow up to 2,000 friends before being limited and receiving this error message.
I noticed this over the weekend when working on one of my accounts. I have had the account a long time and it has a high natural follower count, but found myself limited when I hit the 2,000 number of people I was following.
I went and read the following section on their supposed “following limits”:
“Follow limits are based on several things, one of which is our belief in a person’s good standing and intention. The behind-the-scenes portion of follow limiting varies by account, relationship, and changes over time. Based on current behavior in the Twitter community, we’ve concluded that this is both fair and reasonable. While we figure out what works best for everyone, the limits may change occasionally, but this is the nucleus and future limits will be based upon the success of these.”
it also indicated that the limit was based on a 24 hour period so I decided to quit working on the account for the weekend and pick up again on Monday.
This morning I went to test and see if I could follow more than 2,000 and found that I was still given the error message.
I talked to a buddy, who did the same test over the weekend, and as of today he also has the same message and result.
A quick search on the web found a blog post from last month mentioning the change as of July 11, 2008, so this must have been in effect for about a month now. Another member was found posting in Twitter about it on August 2.
I am still unsure if maybe it is only certain people effected by the apparent following cap or if it is every Twitter user that is effected.
EDIT: Twitter user “jpostman” sent me a link to an update from one of Twitter’s technical support staff verifying that there are limits that change for each person.
Also Twitter user “NicoleSimon” took her following count from below 2,000 to 2,056 proving that it is possible if you have the right ratio or account trust.
EDIT – Aug. 12, 2008: The co-founder of Twitter, Evan Williams, commented on GigaOm’s post saying:
“Om, I’m afraid this has gotten confused. There is no limit to the number of followers you can have.
There is a limit to the number of people you can *follow*. This is mostly to reduce spam and depends on a number of factors. More details here: (link)”
If you have anything to add or an account that has been able to cross the 2,000 follower mark in the last month, please comment below.
I hit the 2K limit shortly after I started testing our twitter GM script last week. Yesterday (Sunday), with 675 followes, I hit a new limit: 900. It appears that if you follow too many, they drop your following limit even further. Luckily, I can easily drop the non-mutuals.
I know there are plent of people that are following many more feeds than that.. Jason Calacanis & Guy Kawasaki come to mind. Perhaps they are not limiting accounts that are already at that level? Or more likely, they are just special cases.
That’s not a very creative solution. It should be based on following/follower ratios. If it’s unbalanced I should not be allowed to add more.
Perhaps a “This is spam” link that goes with the follower notification you get. If 10 people report a member as spam they get flagged and are investigated.
Many organizations use Twitter as a communication device or web service. This will definitely impact them.
It may also be that they had that many before the limit was implemented. I tried to contact Twitter for comment but did not have a good contact to reach out to.
Wow this is big news in twitter world. This should certainly stop some of the mass auto following going on.
It blows that I heard this from you instead of from them.
Wow..this is definitely news. We bet they leave those who are following over 2K alone – it would be pretty evil to erase a ton of contacts in accounts – there definitely would be an uprise.
I’m “stuck” at following 2,000 as well. I hit that barrier last week, and can’t get over it. I put in a ticket to support, but it looks like that won’t get anywhere if it’s indeed true.
hi Louis – did you ever get over the threshold, just curious? i am stuck at it too. following 2000, being followed by 1600. ugh!
I think the 2k limit is very low, I have more than 2k friends on Digg, they must understand that if they have 15 million users, following only 2000 people is very easy…. If they want to stop spam they should check scripts that add friends every 10 seconds or search for other patters…
Now spammers will create tons of accounts with 2k each one, so is this the solution =?
There are more than 2000 interesting people in the world to follow. Unfair.
I hit this barrier around July 28th or so. I’d give you the exact tweet, but Twitter won’t let me page back that far, either. 😐
Maybe they’ll start charging for extra followings..
I just started using Twitter so I haven't run into any problems like that yet, but that's weird.
Jim: I noticed that too! I loved Wallstrip's episode from yesterday: http://www.wallstrip.com/2008/08/11/twitter/
– I am currently following ca 1500 and CANNOT keep up, so 2000 seems an ok limitif you have less that 1000 followers ,)
– Balancing it on rations makes little sense. When you start out you weasily follow 100 perlple or 50 and are only followed by 0-2.
– It’s very nice now, I see I have a follower with 2000 ppl he/she follows and 590 who fllow back -> SPAM -> BLOCK finished. ) (Yes, 20 followermails by idiotic spammers per day get on my NERVES.)
If you believe in the magic number:
Then even the 2,000 number starts to look too big. I know people are going to complain about this limitation (as the do about any limitation, heck people even complain about features), but ultimately it will improve everyone’s experience.
@Don, @Louis, @Manny, @Arnold, surely you don’t expect any of your 2,000 to believe you’re actually paying any substantive attention to them, do you?
Maybe you do not understand the English language, and if that’s the case I’m sorry.
But, “User can now only add up to 2,000 followers before being limited and receiving this error message.”
One does not “add followers”, one follows other people. Now, one can only follow 2,000 people or less. Users “add” themselves, you follow others. Get it?
Whats up with all this Twitter news the last couple days? I dont get it.
This seems like growing pains. Twitter may be trying to deal with a couple of problems at once. Their own struggles to manage their growing user base as well as the spam issue.
Twitter is one of the easiest platforms on which to amass friends — just the single click. You don’t need a script or any other technological know how to follow thousands in a single afternoon. I’m not sure there’s another site where it’s so very easy. This makes the potential for spamming massive.
I suspect that a strong reaction from the community will send Twitter looking for a different way to solve their problems.
“That’s not a very creative solution. It should be based on following/follower ratios.”
Maybe this is a good way to maintain an effective signal to noise ratio.
Still sad for the people who want to follow more than 2000 individuals though 🙁
How does anyone keep up with more than 2K people you are following? Sure Kevin Rose has +55K followers but he only follows 90 some people.
I think that limit is very stupid. I think it should be based on reputation. If a user follows many others, spams them and they complain, then that user should be limited or booted. To do this to everyone is heavy-handed and draconian.
@Muhamed – Actually, my limit is now 666. Really strange. And I have > 690 followers (30 people have followed me since yesterday, with no outbound activity on my part).
And yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to follow thousands of people. I focus on people interested in the same things I am, and I scan for things I’m interested in. I’m only interested in following people who will follow me back — otherwise, it’s not a conversation. You can look at my page and tell that it’s not a spam account.
I guess this move by Twitter is a good one…I don’t know how someone can follow more than 2,000 persons..in my case..I’m only following around 280 but still I’m having trouble catching up with them…^^
what happens to those tweppl who already have more than 2000+ followers??
The vast, vast majority of Twitter spammers I’ve seen have less than 20 followers, over 10,000 followings, and, on average, one update, which links to their spam site of choice.
Twitter could apply these numbers to make the system a lot better. Like if someone is following 2,000 people, but also has 2,000+ people following them, it’s pretty obvious they’re not spamming anyone.
Likewise, if someone is following 2,000+ people, and has 2,000+ people following them, and they update several times a day and/or have a few hundred Tweets marked as favourites, they’re most probably not spammers.
How could you realistically follow 2000 people that you actually know?
@ everyone who has complained about only following 2000 people on twitter.
I’m completely taken by this conversation… I just finally set up my twitter account a week ago after refusing to participate since the beginning…
I know a handful of people on twitter right of the bat. (10-20) I know of probably 10-20 more technologies that have their own pages I’d like to follow… I know those 10-20 technologies have 30-50 more people that are in charge that have their own personal tweet feeds that relate back to the technology I want to stay on top of…
I’m already getting so many updates that if I look away for more than an hour, I have to surf back a page or two…
My point to the people who are complaining about not being able to follow 2000 people on twitter: You are retarded, and A.) You don’t know, have never known, nor will you ever know personally 2000 people. B.) If you actually have time to follow 2000 “friends” on twitter or ANY website for that matter, you should introduce yourself to the outdoors, or at least to a more productive day of work, and talk to someone about the twitter problem you have, that has turned you into a twit.
I follow only about 420 users and I have the 2000 cap on my account. I probably have unfollowed 1600 users in my Twitter life though as I am always pruning and maintaining my account.
So this ceiling may be the number of people you have followed all time. Not just the number you are following currently.
I find it hard to justify following more than 2,000 people unless you’re a twitter bot (providing a service), and in those cases people are going to be following you first so the site will pay attention to ratios. Also, there’s a big discussion on this on the Twitter support site: http://gsfn.us/t/j5e
This is extremely annoying. No response from support, no indication of what I can do to play within the boundaries. Nothing. Zip, zilch, nix, nill, nada, niente, nothing, f*ck all!! Just secretive, “Oh we have a process that we’re refining.” At least respond to the support queries!!!!
All of the arguments that the limit is reasonable because 2K is more “people” than anyone can actually follow are missing the point. The idea that someone who is following 2K accounts is trying to keep up with 2K people is using Twitter differently than I do…and the “point” is that Twitter will only survive if there are many ways in which people make use of it as a community.
Twitter is full of a variety of users. Some are individuals, some are representatives of causes, and some are services (like news feeds or support groups.) In addition, some people only update occasionally…some are my friends in “real life,” but they hardly ever update, some are new users who seem interesting, but haven’t posted many updates yet, and some are conversing with people I follow already. Following these people is a way to “get in line” in case they start using it regularly. Some people post interesting things regularly, and some people regularly interact with me.
I get that SPAM is an issue for some people, but there are already other solutions in place on Twitter. The first is locking your “follow” button so that no one can follow you without your permission. The other is the fact that I don’t have to follow anyone else’s spam, whether or not they follow me…what do I care if 10,000 spammers are following me? And finally, Twitter suspends accounts that are complained about by multiple users.
Moreover, the whole point of all the new Twitter software, like Twirl and Tweetdeck is that they give you more ways to filter and interact effectively with a broader network of users. This is the most idiotic business move Twitter could be making right now. As the community grows, more and more people will begin to reach this limit and will either rebel or retreat…or start their own community without limits.
Finally, I’ll say that the customer service notice that says the limits are “based on a 24 hour period” is at best misleading. My limit has been in effect for about a month now. I can only follow new people if I un-follow others. I have written to customer service to no avail. I haven’t even gotten a response. It would be nice if they could at least explain to me why it is of benefit to the Twitter community for me to stop following my New York Times and LA Times news feeds, so I can follow individuals. It’s dumb…it’s bad business…and it pisses me off!
I agree with the last comment that Twitter should not limit or define how their user base is using their technology.
I mean, it’s so early in their service to say for sure how people should be using it…if they are truly interested in growing their service, they will let their users define how they personally want to use it without stepping in the way and throwing out limits like this.
It’s very strange for a new service like this to put the breaks on their new system so early.
I get the spam issue for sure…but their are probably better ways to protect against it.
I am also stuck at 2K follow limits, What’s the rule ? Can’t we follow more? Please Help!
I went from 0 to the 2000 limit in about 3 days, however it was kind of stepped, i followed people in about 4 or 5 sittings, to get to 2000, but even now i have stopped following i still seem to be hitting the 2000 limit, and even still my followed count is climbing, so just need to see what level that needs to be at to make the difference.
I think what you will find is that is has to do with multiple factors. It is a daily limit to add beyond a certain amount, but it also will take into account how many people are following you. It is also possible it might take into account how many people follow you that you do not already follow.
Considering I have 1540 followers (and 3 pages of new followers I can't do anything with) and I follow 2000… I would say that my ratio was pretty much at 85% or so. I have a twitter grade of 99 and have made 54 updates in 2 1/2 months. No spam… no chronic following… ratio is up to par… and still I cannot follow anyone else. Do I keep up with all of these people? YES I DO. It is part of my job to keep up with everyone and it takes approx 1 – 1 1/2 hours out of my day to do so. I have a lot of @ replies and DM's that I answer on a daily basis.
So, if it is supposed to be based on ration, something is seriously out of whack :-/
I have over 23k followers, and I don't think its the case for Guy Kawasaki to follow more than 2000, on average I have more than 2k that I'm following that are not following back. But in saying this I have over 3k following that I"m not following.
I think your follow limit is capped if you are below 2000 followers true, but once you get out of this you're limit will be lifted. But if you want to increase your limit and not be so limited by twitter, you need to
1) Don't follow too fast per day 500 to 800 should be the max you add per day
2) Tweet a lot, I mean if you got 2000 followers and 50 tweets, that's not right, you should tweet often
3) Unfollow people every few days, clear up your un responsive followers
I think if you look active and contribute to the twitter community, well your community, you can lift your limit
i got the limit error message at 922, and i have 350 followers.
It has become more a ratio to how many people who follow you on their own I think. It definitely is not defined to 2000 alone anymore.
Actually you're right after some research it could be a percentage of how many ppl following you that you can follow on top, but now with the 1,000 per day follow limit, that's pretty gone, you hear much about accounts that can follow more than 1k per day besides the celebrities?
Yeah.. At a certain point, you are freed up to follow as many as you like. I have one account that can add as many as I want, but I just don’t have a need to follow that many in one day.
I think the restriction is rediculous. If I only followed my 12 friends I'd never see anything interesting I didn't already know. The whole idea of twitter was to experience new things. It takes between 3000 and 5000 to start getting a "flow" of twitters that you can explore. I follow anyone that piques my interest. If they don't follow back I might unfollow them, but that takes too much effort. Are there such stupid rules with friendfeed?
i think it's unfair, because i follow many people back who follow me – they want to know something about me and my company FilmTiki.com and i want to know something about them. so it's only natural and polite to follow them.
but since i hit the limit (last week) i cannot follow them back and i now i have about 100 accounts bookmarked since i reached the magic 2000 limit. and all i can do is to wait that my followers/following ratio changes? no other ways?
i think it's unfair, because i follow many people back who follow me – they want to know something about me and my company FilmTiki.com and i want to know something about them. so it's only natural and polite to follow them. since i reached the magic limit of 2000 last week i bookmarked about 100 accounts and the only thing i can do is to wait until my followers/following ratio changes. is this really the only way?
i m also victim of this problem.at first i was so much confuse but now i know that it is the best way to control spammers.twitter is worlds one of the best networking site so if twitter doesn’t control then there is no bright future for twitter. twitter is doing good job
i follow 972 people and it wont let me follow anymore!!!
Great way to explain it. Can’t say more than to appreciate what you are penned down. can you show how to grab your rss feed? I couldn’t find how.
Anyone still tracking this conversation about twitter follower cap?
I just hit the 2k cap, and I am wondering what ratio I need to achieve before I can add more followers, or best steps for me to take.
I am far from a spammer, i just follow anyone in my space. and hence have 1k followers, and i follow about 2k.
I follow a lot of news sources and use them to get headlines. By limiting how many you can follow, they are defining how they want you to use Twitter. I like to use it to read lots of information not necessarily to pontificate myself. You apparently have to be very popular in your posts in order to read lots of others. I find that annoying.
What is this? If you have spammers, guess what, you can unfollow them. Who is Twitter to decide if I want to follow someone or not? This is utter non-sense!
geez, every1 so cranky, read this message from twitter before overreacting please
"If you've reached the account-based follow limit (after you've followed 2,000 users), you’ll need to wait until you have more followers before you can follow additional users. Follow limits are system-wide and Support cannot remove or adjust your follow limits."
"Hitting a follow limit doesn't mean we think you’re a spammer. These limits help us improve site performance and reliability and help us make Twitter a nice place for everyone."
There are 2 follow limits on Twitter. The first is the 2000 limit which everyone has been discussing. How that works, is when you have followed 2000 people, you can't follow any more until you have 10% more followers than the number you have followed, and this ratio applies from there on up.
So, you indicate that you need to accumulate approximately 90% followers compared to following or about 1800+ if you have reached 2000 that you follow. Wow! That seems like a near impossibility!
It's really annoying, but quite logical!
Well I Wish I could follow more people. I think 'll quit twitter. It sort of sucks!
I close to surpass the 2,000 Twitter limit.
Just few more followers. 😉
@emmamcgarry is my twitter account.
im actually getting fed up with only being allowed to follow 2000, because i have loyal followers that i cant follow back due to this limit. its stupid, because sites that let you BULK unfollow people that dont follow you back have been stopped by twitter so that you cant use them! twitter either needs to show you who isnt following you back, or sort this out. twitter is going to lose a lot of users.
I've been following 2,000 for a few months now, and still can follow any more than this. I now have just over 500 followers and have made about the same number of tweets. I imagine once these two go up I will be allowed to start following more ppl… Quite annoying to say the least! @sam_anyroad
They are going to make you pay to follow more. Why wouldn't they? It's brilliant… and awful.