Twitter has suffered another significant outage, with various elements of the platform going down as a result of an ‘internal change that had some unintended consequences’, according to Twitter’s Support account.
Some parts of Twitter may not be working as expected right now. We made an internal change that had some unintended consequences. We’re working on this now and will share an update when it’s fixed.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) March 6, 2023
Many users were unable to view images, click links, or even load the site for a brief period, before Twitter was able to get things back up and running. Some users reported getting the error message ‘your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint’, which led some to speculate that the issue was related to Twitter’s free API access change, which will limit access for developers.
It’s unclear what, exactly, caused the error, though Twitter chief Elon Musk did tweet that the site is ‘so brittle’, implying that minor changes can have major consequences at present.
Of course, the immediate assumption is that Twitter’s lack of oversight, due to the company cutting over 70% of its staff, is the root cause of these ongoing outages and problems, which thus far have been minor, though seem to be worsening over time. Outgoing Twitter staff have warned that the platform is on the brink of collapse, as various system errors stack up, due to less monitoring and maintenance, but again, the platform is, in general, still running as normal, at least for the most part.
Though it does seem that Elon’s Icarian management style is putting the site at risk, which may eventually lead to a more significant crash and/or outage. Which Twitter can ill afford – a recent report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that Twitter’s overall revenue intake is 40% down, year-on-year, while 70 of the platform’s top 100 advertisers have not returned to the site since Musk took over at the app.
Musk’s plan to subsidize the company’s revenue via subscriptions to Twitter Blue is also not worked as hoped, with only around 300k users – or 0.12% of its user base – signing up to the option. As such, it seems that Elon and Co. will need to come up with another revenue plan for the app, with the most recent staff cuts taking Twitter closer to the bone than ever, and putting it more at risk of full collapse.
To be clear, I don’t think that will happen. Elon and his investment partners have sunk billions into the platform, and it’s hard to see them simply giving up on it, and losing that investment. But it also doesn’t seem like there are many more cuts to be had, and as Twitter’s operational issues continue to stack up, it’s clear that significant changes are required, in some form, which may also require more investment.
I would bet on Musk and Co eventually stabilizing the app, somehow, but the most recent outages do raise more questions about the back-end systems, and what might be happening without the same level of management as they’ve had in times past.
Maybe they can be stabilized with new infrastructure and improvements, or maybe, there will be a more significant crash at some stage. Either way, it’s not good for Twitter to have these repeated down times, along with disruptions to developer access.