Science

Could Twitter disappear in the middle of a crisis because of Elon Musk?

Most of the company’s employees left the ship due to Elon Musk’s chaotic leadership. But it will be a long time before the company disappears.

#RIPTwitter. #TwitterDown. So many keywords that became one of the most popular on Twitter on November 18, after a wave of layoffs from Twitter employees who rejected Elon Musk’s ultimatum. The platform’s new owner sent out an email to his teams (half of whom have already been fired) asking them to stick with his strategy or leave.

Within a few hours, dozens of testimonials poured into Twitter from engineers or design professionals who chose to leave the company. What causes panic among Internet users.

No massive failures

According to data compiled by Tech&Co using the Visibrain tool, over 650,000 tweets used the #RIPTwitter keyword. With a surge in the use of terms related to platforms that could replace Twitter (more or less approximately), such as Mastodon or the almost forgotten Tumblr.

#RIPTwitter, #TwitterDown, Mastodon and Tumblr Keyword Usage Statistics#RIPTwitter, #TwitterDown, Mastodon and Tumblr Keyword Usage Statistics © Visibrain

As many Internet users note, such a large number of shipments poses a significant risk to the correct technical functioning of the social network. Thus, the leakage of the most qualified engineers can make the task more difficult in the event of a general breakdown. Despite the popularity of the keyword #TwitterDown (#PanneTwitter), the social network on November 18 works correctly.

Many of the reviews are based on the peak of failure displayed by the collaborative site Downdetector. A platform that relies on statements from internet users to warn of potential technical problems on the internet. But, as so many comments show, much of the reported difficulty is actually about criticism of Elon Musk’s management, not actual technical issues.

Musk, the first loser of the end of Twitter

But can Twitter just shut down while the company’s offices are temporarily unavailable? Such a scenario, the most extreme, remains unlikely. After signing and then pulling out of the deal, Elon Musk was eventually forced to buy Twitter for $44 billion, of which $27 billion was financed out of his own pocket.

“Switching off” Twitter would mean taking stock of this colossal amount, while at the same time exposing itself to $13 billion worth of risk against the banks that accompanied it in this operation. Finally, the loss of trust could jeopardize its other businesses, starting with Tesla and SpaceX. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out on Nov. 11, Elon Musk would thus be the biggest loser in Twitter’s bankruptcy.

While the risk of a sudden intentional black screen appears low, Twitter is facing many systemic risks that could increase in the coming days. As The Atlantic recalled in late October, a massive and uncontrolled talent drain could, at least temporarily, put Twitter in a more than delicate position.

Among the main scenarios mentioned are repeated breakdowns that the remaining employees would not be able to fix, legal pressure in the absence of legal services or moderation, or even hacking, which was facilitated by the absence of cybersecurity specialists.

All against the backdrop of financial difficulties due to the flight of advertisers, after the chaotic launch of the paid certification function, Elon Musk decided against the advice of some of the platform teams.

Faced with this dangerous situation, Elon Musk wants to present himself as serene, alternating between school jokes and humorous winks. Along the way, reassuring that Twitter has never been used so much and that the “best” employees chose to stay with it. He must convince them not to leave during the storm.

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