According to experts, this is how Twitter “breaks” under CEO Elon Musk

  • A sudden, catastrophic failure of Twitter is unlikely, insiders say.
  • Still, they expect a torrent of problems to accumulate until it can no longer function.
  • With so few employees able to share important work, “Twitter is over,” said one former employee.

Twitter’s technical prowess is being tested under the stewardship of Elon Musk, with insiders and pundits agreeing that a collapse of the site is possible, if not likely, in the near future.

Sites like Twitter don’t just black out in the face of problems that can’t be fixed quickly — or at all. But with more users than ever and drastically fewer employees thanks to the combination of mass layoffs and mass terminations owned by Musk in just three weeks, it seems serious technical problems are inevitable.

Entire teams within Twitter have effectively shut down because Musk fired about 3,500 employees earlier this month and an estimated 2,000 employees who resigned on Thursday in response to the billionaire’s ultimatum calling for “extremely hard” work.

Still, a sudden, catastrophic outage for Twitter is “unlikely,” said a former Twitter executive with knowledge of its technical systems. Even if Twitter were to lose all of its employees, the site would remain online for at least a while since it operates largely via remote commands set up to continue on its own.

“The more likely scenario is that there’s a major feature outage for some-to-all users,” the former manager said. Functions like posting or retweeting could be buggy or stop working if they encounter an unexpected problem, the executive noted.

“It would be discovered late and it would be unclear what caused the problem and unclear how it could be fixed if you didn’t employ any of the people who could fix it,” the executive said.

Another likely scenario is that Twitter won’t see a single major bug, but small issues or glitches will build up, the former manager said. Notifications may stop working or tweets may appear hours late in feed. Even small problems will take too long to fix considering how few people Twitter is now.

“Normally it wouldn’t be difficult to undo these things,” said the former manager. “But now it’s going to take days or weeks to actually find out.”

Critical maintenance of data and servers, which are key to avoiding such problems, becomes obsolete because there are not enough staff to handle the workload, said a former employee with knowledge of Twitter’s systems.

“We were already busy before he walked in,” the person said, referring to Musk. “Now there is definitely no way to deal with all of this. Twitter is dead.”

This person predicted that Twitter would soon be having “something critical failing every few days” and piling up until problems could no longer be fixed. Users then leave a website that is effectively broken.

Tech and engineering pundits have been posting seemingly minor things on Twitter that are likely to go wrong in the coming weeks. One employee only Applying “bad code” to a network can be harmful if no one is available to fix it quickly. A security threat could arise without anyone detecting it in time or knowing how to fix it.

A recent Twitter engineer said Thursday he and other remaining colleagues realized they now “need to maintain Twitter and learn everything.”

That may not even be possible, a former employee said, given the loss of knowledge of Twitter’s operations and code base.

“You can’t fire us all and expect people to go in next Monday and magically fix everything,” said this worker.

Musk spent part of Thursday calling engineers who refused to log into Twitter 2.0 to try and get them to stay, Insider reported. Along with the loss of engineers, finance and accounting have been eroded, Insider reported, along with Twitter’s information security organization, which maintains company and user data, two people familiar with the company said.

In a sudden attempt to “get a better understanding” of Twitter’s technology, Musk sent emails early Friday morning asking that “anyone” left at Twitter with software coding experience meet him personally should meet.

“He thinks he can understand the Twitter stack all by himself in a day,” said a former employee. “I hope someone tells him how ridiculous this is.”

Are you a Twitter contributor or someone else with insights to share? Contact Kali Hays at [email protected] via the secure messaging app signal at 949-280-0267 or via Twitter DM @hayskali. Contact us from a personal device.

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