“A small change in the API had a huge impact,” said Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter wrote in a tweet on Monday, referring to the tool used by third-party developers who run programs that take advantage of Twitter data and post it to its site. “The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason. Will eventually need a complete rewrite.
It was the second time on Monday that he used that explanation, both times calling the site “brittle”.
Since taking over Twitter, CEO Elon Musk has laid off more than two-thirds of the company’s workforce, embarking on aggressive cost-cutting efforts and laying off employees, in part by forcing them to commit to an “extremely hardcore” workplace or to close the company. to leave. The massive layoffs led to widespread concerns about Twitter’s ability to retain core functions as critical technical teams were reduced to one or zero staff.
In the months since the acquisition — and subsequent layoffs — Twitter has suffered multiple outages, hampering key functions: loading tweets and notifications, sending tweets and direct messages, accessing links and photos. Each was said — by current and former staffers, or Musk himself — to come as the company made code changes.
“Every error in code and operations is now deadly,” a former engineer told The Washington Post in November, explaining that those who were left “would become overwhelmed and overworked and therefore more likely to make mistakes.” The former engineer spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Before the Musk acquisition, the company had a risk assessment team that screened product changes for anticipated problems. Twitter’s risk assessment process focused on spotting potential problems before they happened. But the team was fired after Musk’s acquisition, The Washington Post reported, leading to product rollouts riddled with bugs.
Musk and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Since taking over Twitter, Musk has followed a plan to cut 75 percent of the company’s workforce, aggressively cut costs and pursue new revenue streams, such as charging $8 a month for the signature blue verification icons from the company. But his tenure was also marked by embarrassing mishaps, such as the failed rollout of the checkmark feature, which resulted in a swarm of imitators and prompted Twitter to temporarily suspend its subscription service several times.
Musk pursued Twitter and vowed to restore “free speech” to the platform, firing the company’s previous set of executives whom he blamed for a content moderation approach rooted in protecting against the harm of hate speech and incorrect information. Musk also promised transparency about the old regime’s decisions — such as the effort to limit the spread of a New York Post story about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop — but has cracked leaks of company information under his own direction.
Even before Musk’s acquisition, Twitter employees had warned of the site’s vulnerabilities in the event of an outage. Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko warned of a possible event of overlapping outages in Twitter’s off-site data centers, for example, in a complaint obtained by congressional committees.
That kind of outage, he said, can render critical data unrecoverable — and cause Twitter to go down for months. Despite concerns about Twitter’s fragile infrastructure, Musk ordered the closure of Twitter’s largest data center, in Sacramento, in December, The Washington Post reported at the time.
On Monday, Twitter users were greeted with glitches almost as soon as they opened the site.
When users clicked on a link on Twitter, they were presented with the message, “Your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint,” read it, and sent them to a page intended for developers.
Complaints have been pouring in on the Down Detector website, which tracks online outages: “User reports point to problems at Twitter,” it says.
“We made an internal change that had some unintended consequences,” Twitter’s support account said said in a tweet.
By late morning some functions seemed to be restored.
“Everything should work normally now,” Twitter’s support account said in a tweet. “Thank you for staying with us!”
Monday’s pattern mirrored an outage from early February, which arose when Twitter made similar changes to its API, the data feed intended for developers.
Twitter suffered a widespread outage on Feb. 8 that prevented users from sending tweets and direct messages, following other accounts, and loading content into their timelines.
“As of February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic level will be available instead,” Twitter said wrote that month.
Musk said Twitter was trying to crack down because Twitter’s open-access data “abusedby bots selling scams, but later said the company would make a free version available as criticism poured in over its aggressive attempts to monetize aspects of the site that were previously free.
That series of issues followed a widespread global outage that hit Twitter in December.
In group chats among current and former engineers at the time, some speculated that the glitch came in December after a software update went wrong.
Monday wasn’t the first time Musk suggested that Twitter’s code needed a complete rewrite. He has maintained that position for months since he took over the site last year. Speaking on Twitter Spaces, the site’s live audio feature in December, he said the company’s code base needed to be revised.
Pressed by a contestant to explain what that meant, Musk grew agitated.
“Great, wow,” he said after hesitations and pauses. ‘You’re an asshole. … What an idiot.”