Twitter’s failure comes from one engineer who screwed up

The Twitter crash is due to a configuration error caused by an engineer who was sent alone to make changes to the social network’s settings, according to inside sources consulted by the US press.

An accident in early March that resulted in the disappearance of tweets on the main page. And, a few days later, the Twitter and Tweetdeck apps crashed, no longer responding. It is clear that since the beginning of the year there has been great instability in the social network. Moreover, other failures of the same order have been noted since the beginning of the year.

The one that made Twitter unavailable on March 6 now has an explanation reported by the Platformer site, which regularly talks about the failures of the community site with internal evidence. The coverage provided by the US media based on unspecified sources is once again not very flattering about Elon Musk’s management of Twitter.

The platformer reports that the root cause of the March 6 crash is an error in the API configuration. An API (abbreviation for Application Programming Interface) is a programming interface that allows you to connect to social media servers to access information. This was used, for example, for third-party applications from Twitter.

Social networking site Twitter is showing troubling signs of instability. // Source: Twitter

According to our colleagues, the modification made to the API configuration was part of a larger project to close open access (which killed the entire ecosystem around the community site). Instead, a new paid API has been implemented, always in Elon Musk’s constant quest to find solutions to monetize his expensive acquisition.

However, according to the Platform, only a reliability engineer was assigned to this modification, which did not allow to control the quality of work before “launching into production”, that is, actually deploying a new configuration on servers. Alas, the engineer clearly made a mistake, which then affected the Twitter API.

That’s why we were able to read the alerts on the afternoon of March 6 by connecting to Tweetdeck. “Your API plan does not include access to this location,” says the third-party app, which has been owned by Twitter since 2011. URLs at “” (a link shortening service) were also in trouble. And the main site reacted very badly.

We do not know the reason why only one person was mobilized for this project, but it certainly illustrates the very significant weakening of the social network’s workforce since Elon Musk came to the helm. In early November, half of the employees were fired. Since then, there have been other dismissal campaigns.

Twitter lost a lot of employees in a few months

According to a New York Times status update on Feb. 26, Twitter has less than 2,000 employees. In October, there were 7,500 of them. This was before Elon Musk, who nevertheless promised in November not to fire anyone. As for the engineering part, according to Platform, only 550 engineers will remain to keep the site afloat.

Clearly, these apparent cuts in the workforce are paying off well today: with few competent employees to restore service, according to US media, it took Twitter all morning to fix the problem. Among the employees, the feeling was divided between fun, fatigue and obviousness, because it could not be otherwise.

On March 6, Elon Musk publicly tweeted a general comment: “A small API change had a huge impact. The code stack is extremely fragile for no good reason. It will eventually have to be completely rewritten,” pointing to the technical debt accumulated since Twitter was born. But they say that internally he was seething.

Elon Musk / Twitter // Source: NumeramaElon Musk has decided to drastically cut Twitter staff. // Source: Numerama

The story does not say what happened or what will happen to the hapless engineer who launched one of the biggest social networks on the planet. We know that Elon Musk has fired an engineer who proved him wrong in the past in a fit of humor — a reaction that’s all the more devastating because it also discourages teams from expressing dissent.

Ironically, according to Elon Musk’s criteria, employees who are still employed should have better technical skills for Twitter, as other profiles deemed less effective have been fired. But the point is too low. “There just isn’t enough technical knowledge to make the site work,” warned one engineer.

Twitter’s drastic downsizing and recent outages suggest the site is now on the verge of going out of business and the teams should be replenished instead. Alerts in this direction have been issued for months, including on the moderation side, which has also been in free fall since the arrival of Elon Musk.

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