Twitter needs a ‘complete rewrite’ after it broke again, Elon Musk says

Site’s code means that it is ‘brittle’, CEO says – but reports claim lack of staff may have made the problem worse

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 08 March 2023 11:25 GMT
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Twitter’s code needs a “complete rewrite” after the site went down again, Elon Musk has said.

But the outage might have been the result of the recent round of firings leaving the company without enough people to make sure that the code is safe from new changes.

On Monday, users found that a variety of parts of the site – including images, links and TweetDeck – had broken. Error messages indicated that something had happened to the API, the service that allows Twitter to communicate with itself and other services.

Initially, chief executive Elon Musk said that the problem was the result of the code being “brittle”. He suggested the problem was the result of a edit to Twitter’s code, but gave little more information on what exactly had changed.

But reports from inside Twitter indicate that the staff employed to ensure the site keeps running have largely been fired.

The outage on Monday was caused by a “bad configuration change” that “basically broke the Twitter API”, a staff member said, according to Platformer. Twitter is currently attempting to change how that API works, so that it will no longer allow users free access to tweets, for instance.

“We made an internal change that had some unintended consequences,” the company had explained in an update on its Twitter support account.

The outage quickly hit internal Twitter systems and other important services, as well as showing up as broken images and links for users.

Staff had previously been employed to evaluate the risks of such configuration changes. But they were among the employees that have been fired to leave Twitter with less than 25 per cent of the staff it had before Mr Musk took over.

But Mr Musk has continued to argue that the code running the site itself is at fault, and that it will need to be completely rewritten.

“A small API change had massive ramifications. The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Will ultimately need a complete rewrite,” without giving any indication of either the current problems or what new updates might be required.

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