Is Twitter about to die for lack of technical means? Elon Musk’s takeover of the microblogging site has garnered a lot of attention due to the moderation policy changes promoted by the billionaire, but another, more discreet side of the platform is deteriorating to high speed: technical reliability.
The bugs are piling up
The great purge operated by the CEO of Tesla has seen many developers of all kinds jump ship, jeopardizing the very survival of the site, according to information obtained by the MIT Technology Review site. Testimonials from engineers specializing in web development or developers within Twitter paint a less than rosy picture of the technical reliability of the site.
“Catastrophic failures are more dramatic, but the biggest risk is that the little things start to go bad“, explains Ben Krueger, a specialist in site reliability engineering (or SRE for Site Reliability Engineering) surveyed by MIT. A retweet that does not work here, a broken subscriber count over there, threads not loading… The number of small technical bugs affecting the platform seems to have increased significantly lately.
Decimated teams, drastic savings
Hardly surprising when you know that 80% of the team responsible for site reliability has left the ship and that some developers who have been with the company for more than 10 years have left, taking with them valuable know-how. “If we have to move at a breakneck pace, things will go downhill, there’s no way to avoid that. Our technical debt is growing much faster than before“explains an engineer still in the job. “Things are going to be broken more often, are going to break longer, more badly. Everything will accumulate until the site becomes unusable“, sighs the manager.
Add to that Musk’s desire to save a billion dollars in infrastructure costs, and you’ve got a site that might just stand up with three pieces of tape and a whole lot of goodwill. “Unless Twitter has massively overinvested in its technical capabilities, the risk of a technical misfire appears to be inevitable.“, explains Alan Woodward, a specialist in cybersecurity.
Twitter is unlikely to go down overnight, but unless Elon Musk changes policy, the site may well crash on a more regular basis…causing an exodus of followers.