Twitter risks fraying as engineers exit over Musk upheaval
Elon Musk’s managerial bomb-throwing of Twitter has so slashed the ranks software engineers who keep the world’s de-facto public square in order that industry insiders, programmers who were fired or resigned this past week, agree: Twitter may soon collapse.
Musk ended an ugly argument with nearly two dozen coders about his retooling the microblogging platform earlier in the week by firing them. After Musk demanded that they work “extremely hardcore” by Thursday evening, hundreds of engineers and other workers quit.
The platform is losing workers as it prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup , which opens Sunday. It’s one the most important events on Twitter, as it causes massive tweet surges that stress its systems.
” “It does seem like he’s about to blow up Twitter,” said Robert Graham. Graham is a veteran cybersecurity entrepreneur. “I don’t see how the lights will go out at any time,” said Robert Graham, a veteran cybersecurity entrepreneur. However, many Twitter employees who have departed recently predicted a slower demise.
Hundreds of employees indicated they were leaving before Thursday’s deadline by posting farewell messages and a salute emoticon on the company’s Slack messaging board. Employees who still have access to the Slack message board said that many of them had left. Several employees also took to Twitter to publicly announce their departure.
Earlier in the week, some were so upset at Musk’s apparent recklessness that they took it to Twitter to ridicule the CEO of Space X and Tesla. One engineer added lipstick marks, “Kiss my sex, Elon.” She was fired. After Thursday’s deadline,
Twitter leadership sent unsigned emails stating that its offices would close and that employee badge access would be disabled until Monday. Two employees who received the email said that they did not receive any reason. One took the severance and one was still on payroll. They spoke anonymously out of fear of retribution. A trusted phalanx made up of Tesla coders was there to assist him as he robbed a once friendly workspace. Musk didn’t seem bothered.
” The best people are staying, so i’m not super concerned,” he tweeted Thursday night. It soon became apparent that some critical programming teams were completely destroyed.
Indicating how strapped he is for programmers, Musk sent all-hands emails Friday summoning “anyone who actually writes software” to his command perch on Twitter’s 10th floor at 2 p.m. — asking that they fly into San Francisco if not local, said the employee who quit Thursday but was still receiving company emails.
Musk took over Twitter three weeks ago and fired half of the company’s full-time staff of seven ,500 employees and a multitude of contractors responsible content moderation and other critical efforts. This week, Musk issued an ultimatum.
Three engineers left this week to explain to The Associated Press why they expect significant unpleasantness for Twitter’s more than 230million users now that over two-thirds (or more) of Twitter’s core services engineers pre-Musk are apparently gone. Although they don’t expect a near-term collapse of Twitter, it is possible that things could get very rough for the company if Musk makes significant changes without much off-platform testing.
Signs of fraying were evident before Thursday’s mass exit. People reported seeing more scams and spam in their direct messages and on their feeds. Engineers reported dropping tweets. People got strange error messages.
However, nothing has been catastrophically broken. Yet.
“There is a betting pool for when it happens,” said one engineer. All of them spoke under the condition of anonymity in fear of Musk’s retaliation that could affect their careers and finances.
Another said that if Twitter has been shutting servers and “high volume suddenly comes in, it might start crashing.”
“World Cup is the biggest event for Twitter. He said that this is the first thing you will learn when you join Twitter.
Twitter’s trending pages were already in trouble due to the earlier layoffs. The engineering fireworks began Tuesday when Musk announced on Twitter that he had begun shutting down “microservices” he considered unnecessary “bloatware.”
“Less than 20% are actually needed for Twitter to work!” he tweeted. That drew objections from engineers, who said that Musk didn’t know what he was talking.
“Microservices are how most modern large web services organize their code to allow software engineers to work quickly and efficiently,” said Gergely Orosz, author of the Pragmatic Engineer blog and a former Uber programmer. There are many of these services, each with a different feature. Musk’s team apparently updated Twitter live on all computers, instead of testing the removal microservices in a simulated environment.
One microservice did indeed break briefly — the one that people use to verify their identity via SMS when they log into Twitter. It’s called two factor authentication.
” You have exceeded the limit for SMS codes. Try again in 24 hours,” Twitter advised when a reporter tried to download their microblogging history archive. The email verification alternative worked, thankfully.
One of the newly separated Twitter engineers, who had worked in core services, told the AP that engineering team clusters were down from about 15 people pre-Musk — not including team leaders, who were all laid off — to three or four before Thursday’s resignations. Then, more institutional knowledge that cannot be replaced overnight left the door.
“Everything could break,” the programmer said.
It takes six months to train someone for an on-call rotation for certain services, engineers stated. These rotations require programmers who are available at all times. If the person on the call is not familiar with the code base, they could make mistakes as they scramble through reference manuals.
” If I stayed, I would have been on call constantly with little support for indeterminate amounts of time on multiple additional complex systems that I had no experience in,” tweeted Peter Clowes who took the severance.
“Running even boring systems requires people who know where they should go when something breaks,” stated Blaine Cook, Twitter founder engineer. He said that it’s dangerous to reduce a programming team to a skeleton staff without first bulletproofing code.
“It’s akin to saying, “These firefighters aren’t doing anything.” So, we’ll just let them all go. The engineers are also concerned that Musk will shut down tools that help in content moderation and removing illegal material from Twitter. Or that there won’t be enough staff to properly run them.
Hackers are another concern. Hackers are another concern. It is important to detect them quickly and kick them out when they have infected the system.
It is unclear how Musk’s cleaning up at Twitter has affected its cybersecurity department. In August, Peiter Ztko, a highly respected security chief, filed a whistleblower claim claiming that the platform was a cybersecurity disaster.
“So many of the security infrastructures of large organizations like Twitter are in people’s heads,” stated Graham, the cybersecurity veteran. “And when they’re gone, you know, it all goes with them.”
AP Technology Writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.
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