Elon Musk here is being interviewed at a TED 2017 gathering, before buying Twitter. (Source: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

Twitter Errors Signal Trouble on the Shaky Social Media Platform

Elon Musk appears in just about every newspaper or newscast, from coverage of Space X, Open AI, Paypal, Tesla and of course Twitter. Lately, his name has been coming up in connection with Twitter troubles, most recently in a   fastcompany.com article.

Perhaps last week your Twitter feed was all atwitter. Twitter’s outage on Feb. 8, which saw the site rendered unusable for most users by blocking people from tweeting within the app, accessing or sending direct messages, and following new users, shows that the social media giant is on shaky ground.

The company needs to update its systems to enact the changes Elon Musk wants to make to the platform (extending the maximum tweet length and overhauling the algorithm that presents tweets to users). But after Musk’s mass layoffs, Twitter is now short-staffed, according to former staff. It’s been forced to instigate frequent code freezes, preventing the deployment of iterative changes to the platform’s codebase. That means vast volumes of code changes are pushed out at once when they do happen—so if anything goes wrong, it’s difficult to determine the cause.

And plenty continues to go wrong, primarily due to Musk, according to reports. The firings and the changes just sent the algorithms at Twitter into overdrive, even limiting how many people see Musk’s tweets.

“Because the team is so understaffed and a lot of the institutional knowledge has left—involuntarily or otherwise—any new code shipped has the potential to snowball into global outages due to the severe lack of expertise on legacy Twitter systems,” says one former senior software engineer at Twitter who was let go as part of the mass layoffs in October.

Musk often freezes code because one bad line by an inexperienced engineer could sabotage the whole system. But the situation won’t be resolved because the mountain of work that Twitter’s remaining engineering staff is dealing with continues to grow.

“Without additional revenue, he may be unable to hire enough engineers to get him out of this mess,” Ingle says.

Still, it is hard to feel too bad for Musk. Even if his algorithms are goofing with his personal Tweets. According to cnn.com, he plans to find someone else to run the company by the end of the year.

read more at fastcompany.com