Twitter's restrictions mean tweets no longer appear high on Google Search results

World's biggest search engine is unable to crawl social media company's website

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop and mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Google logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018.  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Twitter's recent restrictions on viewing its content have affected its presence on Google, as tweets no longer show up at the top of the search engine's results.

This is the result of the search engine's bots being unable to crawl through Twitter's website, preventing it from displaying results, a Google representative said.

Web crawling is an automated process that copies pages to be processed by a search engine. The pages are indexed so they can be searched more efficiently.

“We’re aware that our ability to crawl has been limited, affecting our ability to display tweets and pages from the site in search results,” Lara Levin, a representative at Alphabet-owned Google, told The National.

“Websites have control over whether crawlers can access their content.”

The development was first reported by industry tracker Search Engine Roundtable, which noted that Google Search began showing fewer tweets over the weekend, at one point by more than 50 per cent, from 471 million Twitter URLs on Friday to 227 million on Monday.

Normally, adding “Twitter” or “tweets” to a search query on Google Search will return top results containing tweets.

However, queries with those keywords run by The National show that tweets no longer appear at the top of the Google search results.

When tweets began disappearing from search results there was speculation it was retaliation for Mr Musk's refusal to pay a bill for Google Cloud's services.

San Francisco-based Google has not publicly commented on Mr Musk's moves. Twitter remains unresponsive to media requests for comment.

Google blocking tweets means Twitter would practically become invisible on the world's biggest search engine, which commanded nearly 93 per cent of the global market as of April, data from Statista showed.

That means tweets will reach a smaller number of users and could counter Mr Musk's desire to widen engagement on his platform.

This would also prevent users from immediately viewing important content coming from Twitter, one of the most widely-used channels for news, information and updates.

Last week, Twitter began requiring users to have an account and be logged in to view user profiles and tweets, a move Mr Musk claims will prevent data from being “pillaged so much”.

We’re aware that our ability to crawl has been limited, affecting our ability to display tweets and pages from the site in search results
Lara Levin, representative at Google

Unregistered users who want to view a Twitter profile will be prompted to log in or sign up, while those attempting to view tweets will be greeted with the “Something went wrong. Try reloading” message.

Shortly before that, Mr Musk announced that Twitter was temporarily limiting the number of tweets people can read in a day, as thousands of users reported problems getting to the website.

Verified accounts were initially limited to reading 6,000 posts a day, Mr Musk said. Unverified accounts were limited to 600 posts a day with new unverified accounts limited to 300, he added.

The temporary reading limitation was later increased to 10,000 posts per day for verified users, 1,000 posts per day for unverified and 500 posts per day for new unverified users, Mr Musk said in a separate post.

The moves were the latest in a long list of game-changing moves the social media platform has enforced since Mr Musk's $44 billion takeover in October.

Mr Musk said the changes, including introducing paid tiers for users and laying off thousands of employees, were aimed at boosting user numbers and increasing Twitter's bottom line.

Updated: July 05, 2023, 3:41 AM