Do Not Refresh The Stream, Do Not Collect 200 Followers, GO TO JAIL

A colleague told me about something this morning which is colloquially known as ‘Twitter Jail’. Inmates of this online-Alcatraz might be incarcerated for breaching the threshold of how many tweets you are allowed to send in an hour, or for following too many people relative to the number who are following you.

So what is Twitter-Jail? Well, essentially your account becomes ‘read-only’. From what I understand, the tweeting limit is 100 tweets per hour, or 1,000 in a day. You cannot send any more tweets or retweets, and you cannot follow any more people. This may last from anywhere between half an hour, to several hours.

Having never been convicted of, nor indeed perpetrated a Twitter crime so grave that it warranted being chucked in the slammer, I am unsure of what happens to repeat offenders. Is it a case that the more you contravene the laws, the longer the ban you receive? At what point do The Powers That Be at Twitter HQ decide that enough is enough and block your account permanently?

If you are a prolific tweeter and have a treasured following – especially if you are running accounts for businesses – it would be wise to invest in some sort of backup solution. With SocialSafe’s new Twitter download functionality you are able to archive and easily browse through your tweets, mentions, message, followers and people you are following.


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  41. I’d like to try to clarify the limits situation as the post is pretty inaccurate. Twitter rate limits apply to hourly API usage and are counted against your account for different types of interaction with the site.

    A standard user has 250 API calls per hour which includes retrieving lists of updates, posting tweets and DMs or fav’ing tweets or RTs and many other calls which seem fairly innocuous but still consume API. All of these things are counted. If you hit the limit in the hour your account is blocked until the end of that hour when the rate limit is reset to 250.

    It isn’t “jail” and you aren’t penalised for hitting the limit or being a repeat offender, the limit is there to prevent undue strain being placed on the Twitter servers.

    If I might make a semi-shameless plug, I actually have an iPhone app on the store called TwitGlitch which among other things will show you what your current rate limit status is and when it will be reset. (I won’t link it as I’m not trying to spam, just thought it might be relevant)

    Hope that helps 🙂

    1. Hi Shaun,

      Thanks for taking the time to reply. I’ll take your word for it on the API clock – as I’d alluded to in the post, I was quoting second hand figures that I’d found somewhere online (don’t ask me where!).

      I wasn’t aware that it was more of a server strain issue than a punishment. I’d assumed (perhaps somewhat foolishly) that is was a counter measure to stop people spamming and served as a way of filtering out automated accounts that lock on to keywords and spew forth countless tweets.

      TwitGlitch sounds very useful – I’m guessing it’s a little bit like seeing how much credit you have left on a pre-paid phone? I’ll check it out. Do you have a blog you can post a link to?

      All the best,


      (PS – not seen that Dharma station logo before – you make it yourself?)

      1. Hi,

        I think you’re correct, it does also double as a brake on spammers etc but when the servers are under heavy load Twitter has started to reduce the rate limit of standard accounts to 100 or so (Actually noticed it should have said 350 in the original comment, it was increased recently)

        Yes the app is more about the current status of the service etc in addition to your own rate limits. No blog link but the app is here: TwitGlitch

        And yes, the Dharma logo is for Orchid Station, the one dealing with Space and Time research. 🙂

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