In the wake of a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 striking the Noto area of Ishikawa prefecture, Japan has ordered evacuations across multiple prefectures, issuing warnings of potential 5-meter high waves. To keep residents informed about earthquakes and disaster reporting, the disaster prevention account “NERV” has been a reliable source, communicating in both English and Japanese on the X platform.
However, a new obstacle has emerged for NERV, as the app now faces significant API rate limitations following the implementation of new policies under Elon Musk’s ownership of the platform. NERV, operating under X’s “Basic” API plan, can now only post 100 updates in a 24-hour period, a significant reduction from its previous capabilities. This limitation has impacted NERV’s ability to share crucial information with its combined following of over two million users during times of disaster.
According to reports from Unseen Japan, the API plan that NERV is currently on costs around $100 per month, but the next tier, allowing more extensive usage, demands a hefty $5000 monthly subscription fee. Faced with financial constraints, Gehirn Inc, the creators of the NERV app, have opted to stick with the Basic plan, resulting in communication restrictions during critical situations.
Fortunately, Gehirn Inc has devised an alternative solution, creating a separate app and running a Mastodon account to provide real-time information to users. Despite this effort, some users are urging Elon Musk to reconsider the API limitations imposed on the NERV app, recognizing its vital role in delivering accurate and timely disaster prevention information.
The calls for intervention have even reached Ryuji M, Director of Next at X in Japan and Korea, highlighting the significance of NERV in disseminating critical information. As Japan grapples with the aftermath of a powerful earthquake, the limitations imposed by X’s API policies underscore the challenges faced by platforms offering essential services during times of crisis. Until a resolution is reached, users may need to seek alternative sources for potentially life-saving information.