Images that don’t load, links that don’t work and TweetDeck that seems to be broken: it was again hit at Twitter yesterday. The social network suffered a malfunction for the second time in a week. The instability of the platform has long been a concern.
Yesterday’s outage is a human error, writes the well-established tech newsletter Platformer. Twitter is in the process of closing free access to its so-called API. The API allows other apps to access Twitter services. Parties have to pay for this.
A big change, but only one developer was involved who had to steer everything in the right direction.
Anger at Musk
This developer made a configuration error, which would have angered owner Elon Musk. On Twitter he called the state of Twitter “brittle (sigh)”. It is unclear whether the employee is still employed.
Developers have been fired for minor mistakes. It took Twitter all morning to resolve the issue. “This is what happens when you lay off 90 percent of the company,” a source told Platformer.
Musk said on Twitter that a “small change made a big impact”:
@pmarca A small API change had massive ramifications. The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason. Will ultimately need a complete rewrite.
March 6, 2023
Social media outages have been around for as long as they have existed. This certainly applies to the early years of Twitter, where a whale – the so-called fail whale – appeared with every new failure.
Twitter has again entered more troubled waters in that area. Recently, Netblocks, an organization that tracks internet outages, told The New York Times that there were four outages last month, up from nine in all of 2022.
What doesn’t help is that Musk has laid off thousands of employees since taking office at the end of October. Before Musk, Twitter had more than 7,000 employees, but that has now fallen to less than 2,000.
In addition, much valuable knowledge has been lost. The chaos that accompanied the rounds of layoffs makes it virtually impossible to properly transfer important matters.
The fear is, sources tell The New York Times, that at a certain point there will not be enough employees left to solve malfunctions, or that the knowledge required for this will be lacking.
Today’s outages have always been limited to a maximum of a few hours, but what if it lasts longer? This concern was already expressed in November, when there was an exodus of more than a thousand employees.
A really major outage that lasts hours – comparable to one that hit the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in 2021 – has not yet occurred. They are rather small shocks, which until now are eventually absorbed again. The question is how long that can be sustained.
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