Got the "Twitter Rate Limit Exceeded" Error? Here‘s How to Fix It

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Have you ever gotten an annoying "rate limit exceeded" error on Twitter? As a heavy Twitter user myself, I‘ve dealt with that message more times than I can count.

But not to worry – this issue is solvable if you know what causes it and how to address it properly. In this detailed guide, I‘ll explain everything you need to know about the Twitter rate limit, including:

  • What the error means and why Twitter imposes limits
  • How many API calls are allowed before you‘re rate limited
  • How long the rate limit lasts and when your access resets
  • 8 proven solutions to resolve the "rate limit exceeded" error for good
  • Tips to avoid hitting Twitter‘s API limits in the first place

By the end, you‘ll understand exactly why you got rate limited, how long it lasts, and most importantly – how to fix it and avoid it in the future. Let‘s get started!

What Does "Twitter Rate Limit Exceeded" Mean?

The "rate limit exceeded" error occurs when you send too many API calls to Twitter within a set time period.

API stands for "Application Programming Interface." It‘s what allows third-party apps to access Twitter‘s data and functionality.

For example, a Twitter analytics app needs API access to pull your tweet history data, follower demographics, etc. But Twitter limits how often apps can call the API to prevent system abuse.

If a single app sends too many rapid API calls, Twitter will cut off access and show the "rate limit exceeded" message. It‘s essentially saying "you‘re making too many API requests too quickly – slow down!"

This limit applies to your Twitter account overall, not just a specific app. So you‘ll run into it across any third-party apps if you exceed the total threshold.

Why Does Twitter Rate Limit API Calls?

You might be wondering – why does Twitter limit their API at all? Can‘t they just handle unlimited requests?

There are a few core reasons Twitter enforces API rate limiting:

1. Prevent Overloading Their Servers

Too many API calls at once places a huge burden on Twitter‘s systems. Rate limiting ensures no single app or account can degrade overall performance or crash their servers.

2. Stop API Abuse and Spam

Without limits, malicious apps could spam tweets or harass users through the API. Restrictions make API abuse much harder.

3. Avoid Mass Data Theft

Scraping tweets en masse violates Twitter‘s data policies. Rate limits prevent people from stealing data without permission.

4. Reduce Unnecessary API Costs

Storing data and handling API transfers isn‘t free. Rate limits ensure only serious developers use the API, reducing unnecessary costs.

In summary, rate limits protect Twitter infrastructure, users, and data. It‘s key to ensuring the API gets used responsibly.

How Many API Calls Are Allowed Before You‘re Rate Limited?

The number of API calls you can make depends on your access level:

Standard API Access (Most Users)

  • 450 search API calls per 15 minutes
  • 1500 timeline calls per user per 15 minutes

Elevated API Access

  • 450 search API calls per 15 minutes
  • 5000 timeline calls per user per 15 minutes

Enterprise API Access

  • 10,000 search API calls per month
  • 50,000 timeline calls per user per month

Most individual and third-party app accounts use the standard access level. Exceeding those thresholds triggers the "rate limit exceeded" error.

Here‘s a chart summarizing the API call limits:

Access Level Search API Limit Timeline API Limit
Standard 450 per 15 minutes 1500 per 15 minutes
Elevated 450 per 15 minutes 5000 per 15 minutes
Enterprise 10,000 per month 50,000 per month

As you can see, Standard access is quite restrictive, especially for apps making frequent API calls. That‘s why hitting the rate limit is common under normal Twitter use.

How Long Does the Twitter Rate Limit Last?

Once you exceed the API thresholds, the rate limit block generally lasts 15 minutes.

During that time, you‘ll be unable to post tweets, like or retweet posts, use third-party Twitter apps, or take most other actions on Twitter. Basically anything requiring API access will be blocked.

The limit applies to your entire Twitter account too, not just the specific app you happened to be using when you went over the cap.

So you can‘t simply switch to a different Twitter app to get around the rate limit until the 15 minute period passes.

After 15 minutes, the limit resets automatically and you‘ll regain full access to Twitter‘s API and functionality. Then you can resume normal activity until you near the API limits again.

It‘s essentially a forced 15 minute "time out" when you overuse the API!

8 Ways to Fix the Twitter "Rate Limit Exceeded" Error

Now that you understand why the rate limit happens, let‘s get into how to actually fix it!

Here are 8 proven solutions to resolve the pesky "rate limit exceeded" error when it strikes:

1. Simply Wait 15 Minutes

Since the rate limit period is usually 15 minutes, waiting is often the easiest solution.

Be patient, don‘t use any Twitter apps or take major actions for 15 minutes. The access block will lift automatically once the time is up.

2. Lower Third-Party App API Usage

Oftentimes third party apps are the culprit for exceeding Twitter‘s API limits.

Check the app‘s settings and lower its API usage if possible – for example, reducing how often it pulls new tweet data or analyzes your followers/engagement.

This can significantly reduce its API calls to prevent going over the limits.

3. Use One Twitter App at a Time

Running multiple third-party Twitter apps simultaneously is a recipe for blasting past rate limits.

The combined API calls of all those apps can easily exceed the thresholds and get you blocked. Stick to one app at a time whenever possible.

4. Stop Rapidly Refreshing Timelines/Tweets

Manually refreshing your timeline or tweets makes brand new API calls with each click.

Quickly and repeatedly refreshing can drain your entire 15 minute API allotment within seconds without you realizing it.

Let your feeds auto-refresh on their own, or manually refresh sparingly to conserve your API capacity.

5. Delete Unused Third-Party Apps

The more apps you‘ve authorized to access your Twitter account, the more potential API calls pile up.

Prune any old, unused third-party apps that are still connected to your Twitter account. The fewer apps, the lower chance of exceeding limits.

6. Revoke API Access If Apps Seem Suspicious

Does one particular app seem to be causing you frequent rate limit issues? Revoke its API access immediately.

Some shady apps abuse their API privileges or disregard Twitter‘s usage limits. Protect your account by removing their access.

7. Contact Twitter Support

If you continue getting rate limited with no clear cause, reach out to Twitter‘s support team for assistance.

Explain your frequent rate limiting issues and provide any relevant third-party app details. Support can investigate for potential bugs or misuse of your account.

They may also increase your personal API rate limits if appropriate after reviewing your account activity. It never hurts to ask!

8. Submit an API Ban Appeal

In very rare cases, consistently violating the API limits can get your access permanently revoked.

If this happens, you can submit a formal appeal to Twitter to request restoring your API capabilities.

Thoroughly explain the reasons you need access reinstated, and outline how you will stay within proper usage limits moving forward.

Bonus Tip: Upgrade to Elevated API Access

If you‘re a major power user of Twitter APIs, consider applying for an elevated access level.

The expanded API call limits of the Elevated tier make it much harder to exceed the thresholds and get rate limited.

It‘s not easy to qualify for upgraded access, but may be worth exploring if Twitter‘s APIs are core to your work.

7 Tips to Avoid Hitting Twitter‘s Rate Limits

Beyond resolving rate limit issues after they occur, it‘s better to avoid them altogether when possible.

Here are 7 tips to proactively stay within Twitter‘s API boundaries:

1. Be Selective About Authorizing Apps

Only authorize established, reputable apps. Shady apps are more likely to abuse API calls and get your account rate limited.

2. Don‘t Use Multiple Twitter Apps at Once

Combining API calls from different apps is a recipe for exceeding limits. Only use one app at a time.

3. Manually Refresh Timelines Sparingly

Refreshing makes fresh API calls. Let your feed auto-refresh when possible, or refresh manually less frequently.

4. Adjust Third-Party App Settings to Reduce API Calls

Lower options like refresh rates and data collection if the app allows it. This reduces total API usage.

5. Revoke Access to Any Unused or Suspicious Apps

Periodically audit connected apps and remove any that are outdated, dormant or sketchy.

6. Avoid Mass Actions Like Bulk Likes or Follows

Doing hundreds of likes/follows/retweets rapidly can drain API allotment quickly. Take actions steadily.

7. Contact Support If Issues Persist

If you‘re still having chronic rate limit problems, Twitter support can investigate and potentially increase your limits.

The bottom line is being judicious about what apps you authorize, monitoring their API usage, and limiting frenzied activity goes a long way toward avoiding Twitter‘s rate limits!

Can You Increase the Number of Allowed Twitter API Calls?

For most individual users, the standard API rate limits are fixed. But Twitter does offer pathways to earn higher limits in certain cases:

Twitter Enterprise Track

Companies spending over $100k/month on Twitter ads are eligible for expanded API allowances through the Enterprise track.

Twitter Academic Track

Researchers can apply for elevated rate limits by demonstrating the academic need to Twitter‘s team.

Twitter Startup Track

Early-stage startups accepted into this program can earn free access to increased API call limits.

General Limit Increase Requests

Any user can open a support ticket asking for higher limits if there is a legitimate rationale. Twitter evaluates these case-by-case.

Unless you qualify for one of those special tracks, however, your account will stay at the standard API limit tiers. So make sure to follow best practices to avoid exceeding them!

Twitter Rate Limit FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Twitter rate limiting:

Why did I get rate limited without using third-party apps?

This can happen if you perform many actions like searches, likes, or follows too quickly from or mobile. These count toward your API limit too.

What are the exact time windows for the rate limits?

Rate limits are technically per-minute, recalculated every second. So you may go over the 15-minute allotment if doing tons of actions in one minute.

Do different limits apply to the mobile app vs third-parties?

No, it‘s the same limit – Twitter tracks total API usage across their site, mobile apps, and all third parties.

Could I get banned from Twitter for exceeding the rate limits?

You typically won‘t get suspended just for occasional limit issues. But repeatedly exceeding limits after many warnings can potentially lead to account restriction.

How do I know which specific apps are causing rate limits?

Unfortunately Twitter does not expose this level of detail in the error message. You‘ll have to experiment with revoking app access to identify the culprit(s).

I hope these answers help provide more insight and clarity around Twitter‘s API rate limiting system! Let me know if you have any other questions.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with Twitter‘s "rate limit exceeded" messages can be annoying. But armed with the knowledge of what causes them, how long they last, and different ways to fix them, you‘ll be prepared to overcome rate limiting issues.

A few simple best practices like selective app authorization, revoking unused apps, and not abusing manual refresh goes a long way. Contact Twitter support if problems persist.

I hope this comprehensive guide gives you clarity on why Twitter enforces rate limits, how to address them when they happen, and most importantly – how to avoid excessive API calls in the first place.

With the right strategies, you‘ll stay comfortably within Twitter‘s API boundaries and can enjoy third-party apps and Twitter features without annoying blocks. Rate limiting doesn‘t have to limit your Twitter experience!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.