Twitter Continues To Show Signs Of Failure

Once again, the folks at Platformer are doing amazing work to show how dysfunctional Elon Musk led Twitter is. In their latest report that dropped last night, the team at Platformer starts with this:

On Wednesday, Twitter employees had the tech equivalent of a snow day: the company’s Slack instance was down for “routine maintenance,” they were told, and the company was implementing a deployment freeze as a result. 

That same day, Jira – a tool Twitter uses to track everything from progress on feature updates to regulatory compliance – also stopped working. With no way to chat and no code to ship, most engineers took the day off. 

Jira access was restored on Thursday. But Platformer can now confirm that Slack wasn’t down for “routine maintenance.” “There is no such thing as routine maintenance. That’s bullshit,” a current Slack employee told us.

In this as in so many other things, Twitter hasn’t paid its Slack bill. But that’s not why Slack went down: someone at Twitter manually shut off access, we’re told. Platformer was not able to learn the reason prior to publication, though the move suggests Musk may have turned against the communication app — or at least wants to see if Twitter can run without Slack and the expenses associated with it. (Musk’s Tesla uses a Slack competitor called Mattermost for in-house collaboration, and Microsoft Outlook and Teams for email and meetings.)

On Blind, the anonymous workplace chat app, the disappearance of such critical tools was met with a mixture of disbelief, frustration, and (to a lesser extent) glee.

“We didn’t pay our Slack bill,” one employee wrote. “Now everyone is barely working. Penny wise, pound foolish.”

Another worker called the disappearance of Slack the “proverbial final straw.” 

“Oddly enough, it’s the Slack deactivation that has pushed me to finally start applying to get out,” they wrote.

This underlines that Elon really doesn’t understand Twitter, its culture, and the tools that it users. And that lack of understanding has consequences as outlined above with employee discontent. But that’s not his only issue. Elon wants to open source Twitter’s algorithm for reasons nobody understands. But:

It’s unclear whether Twitter will actually hit that deadline — Musk seems to announce a new thing coming “next week” all the time, and often those deadlines pass and whatever feature was allegedly coming is never heard of again.

This is a classic example of Elon being someone who can’t follow through on his promises because he either lacks the ability to do so, or he’s just writing cheques that his a** can’t cash.

Another of Musk’s ongoing projects is to improve Twitter’s performance. At the end of last year, he claimed progress. “Significant backend server architecture changes rolled out,” he tweeted on December 28. “Twitter should feel faster.” 

In fact, publicly available data indicates that Twitter has been slowly degrading since that month, when it shut down its Sacramento data center. The information comes from Singlepane, a startup whose tool measures latency issues using external signals; the company has been actively monitoring what it describes as a degradation in Twitter’s quality of service.

According to the company’s data, Twitter has seen increased latency — the time between taking an action like refreshing the timeline and seeing new tweets populate in your feed — during times when more people are using the service. Singlepane showed latency spikes during the halftime show of the Super Bowl, for example, and in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Turkey. 

We ran the data by current Twitter engineers, who say it tracks with what they’re seeing internally. 

But it’s not only big external events that can cause the platform to become slower or less stable. When a user takes their account private, Twitter’s systems have to go through every single tweet in the account’s history and mark them as private, before making those tweets visible to the private account’s followers. 

That can be a data-intensive request for a large account a big lift – like, say, Elon Musk’s. Singlepane’s data show that Twitter experienced significant latency issues when Musk took his account private in early February, as part of his effort to understand why fewer people have been liking his tweets lately. (He figured out a separate fix for that problem just a few days later.)

On top of all the other news, parts of Asia experienced a roughly 20 minute Twitter outage today, we’re told. 

This illustrates that this recent outage, this recent outage, and this other recent outage aren’t isolated incidents. They’re becoming the norm. And more outages are coming. You can bank on that because Elon has proven that he’s not capable of running Twitter. Thus it’s only a matter of time before he runs Twitter into the ground.

One Response to “Twitter Continues To Show Signs Of Failure”

  1. […] engineers who are responsible for keeping the platform going is going to make Twitter even more unstable than it currently is. In short, it’s a really bad idea that will come back to bite Elon sooner rather than later. […]

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