New CNN show pushes the limits of Twitter — literally

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One anchor for the cable news channel CNN has become enamored with the micro-messaging service Twitter over the past several weeks. He used tweets (Twitter messages) to complement his coverage of the recent Hurrican Gustav and now the network has apparently decided to take it one step further, basing a whole show around the real-time citizen journalism/opinions that take place on Twitter.

The show, called Rick Sanchez Direct, is scheduled to debut this afternoon, Sanchez let his followers know last week in a tweet. There appears to be a slight problem though: the limits Twitter has in place for number of users you can follow.

The company implemented this limit several weeks ago to reduce the spam that had started to creep into the system. It’s not a hard limit (earlier reports of a 2,000 limit were false), instead Twitter limits this number by several factors including the number of users that follow you back. (It has more about it on its blog.) The problem, as related to this new CNN show, is that to get the best information from Twitter, Sanchez will want to follow as many people as possible.

Right now Sanchez follows 4,607 people and apparently cannot add any more. You can be sure that CNN will want this number to be much higher to make sure it doesn’t miss anything worthy of the show. Sanchez’s producers have contacted Twitter about raising this number, but the limit he’s running into right now may be a bug.

“Rick Sanchez is being followed by almost 10,000 people people on Twitter—he should be allowed to follow at least that many. We’ve told the folks at CNN that we’re fixing this bug and we hope to get to it today,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told me over email today.

Bug or not, if this show takes off it could push Twitter closer to mainstream usage. When that happens, the service will have a lot more users approaching the thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions of followers/following users.

But that is a good problem for Twitter to have. It’s now about scaling up to that level.

You can find me on Twitter here along with fellow VentureBeat writers Eric Eldon, Dean Takahashi, Anthony Ha, Chris Morrison and Dan Kaplan. Oh, and we have a VentureBeat account (for our posts) as well.


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