- Twitter users on Wednesday were suddenly unable to tweet, direct message, or use other features.
- Elon Musk emailed staffers, directing them to “pause” the testing of new features.
- The outage was described as “massive” and was not fully resolved as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Twitter succumbed to one of its largest outages ever, after months of cost cutting and tortured testing by Elon Musk.
The ability to tweet, retweet, quote tweet and direct message on Twitter, each core functions of the platform, stopped for many users on Wednesday. The platform’s site and app still functioned, so users could scroll through previously posted content, yet interacting with that content on desktop or mobile proved limited or impossible for some.
One former Twitter employee described what was happening as “a massive outage,” in private messages seen by Insider. In another message, a current employee at a major tech company complained to Twitter that the their company’s corporate Twitter accounts were not functioning, saying “this is a huge problem.”
Users started to realize they were unable to tweet or retweet, for instance, because of a message that came up when trying to do so. “You are over the daily limit for sending tweets,” the message read. Direct messages were simply gone with the tab only showing the message “something went wrong.”
As Musk has gone about changing Twitter, he has attempted to monetize several elements of the site that have long been free. The error messages seen on Wednesday might be a test, or presage in some other way, that tweeting and direct messaging could be next on his list of features to monetize.
Inside the company it was a “scramble” to find the source of the problem and fix things that may have gone wrong, a person familiar with the company said. By Wednesday afternoon Pacific Time, tweeting and likes were functioning again for many users, while the ability to direct message and retweet was still out. Twitter tweeted from its Support account that the platform “may not be working as expected for some of you. Sorry for the trouble. We’re aware and working to get this fixed.”
The outage led Musk to send a brief email to Twitter staff, instructing them to “pause new feature development” in order to ensure “system stability and robustness,” according to a person who received the email. Fortune reported that Musk message earlier on Wednesday. A company representative did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Issues with functionality and glitches have become more frequent with Twitter, a predicted outcome of Musk’s massive layoffs and extreme cost cutting. Twitter has fewer employees today than it did more than a decade ago, while users have grown from 200 million per month to roughly 250 million per day during that same time, according to company disclosures and data from Apptopia.
A former Twitter executive previously told Insider how Twitter was likely to degrade over time, not simply implode all at once. “The more likely scenario is there’s a major feature breakage for some to all users. It would be discovered late, and it would be unclear what caused the problem and unclear how to fix it when you have none of the people who could fix it employed,” the executive said.
The speed of changes demanded by Musk is one source of problems, as Insider reported. Testing of potentially new or altered features is happening so fast and at such a scale and with so few employees that issues are not being caught right away. Even Andreessen Horowitz, who’s VC firm invested $400 million in Musk’s takeover of Twitter, has become frustrated with the decline of the platform and has complained directly to Musk.
Certain planned changes to Twitter could have caused the outages, according to two people familiar with the company. Wednesday was the day Musk marked off to end free access to Twitter’s developer API, which has allowed for the creation of automated accounts and services that millions of users have come to enjoy on Twitter over the years. From an account that shows the progression of the year as a bar graph to TweetDeck, an organizational tool created from access to the API that Twitter acquired. TweetDeck stopped working on Wednesday, as did many of the automated accounts that chose not to pay Musk for API access.
Twitter on Wednesday also rolled out the ability to Tweet up to 4,000 characters at a time for users subscribed to Twitter Blue.
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