Twitter Learns One Engineer Isn't Enough for a Major Project

Engineer's 'bad configuration change' broke the system, Platformer reports
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2023 7:19 AM CST
Twitter Learns One Engineer Isn't Enough for a Major Project
A Twitter logo hangs outside the company's offices in San Francisco, on Dec. 19, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Twitter CEO Elon Musk was "furious" Monday as the platform experienced its "sixth high-profile service outage" of the year, per Platformer. In an "embarrassing technology failure," photos wouldn't load and links led to an error message reading "your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint," per Ars Technica. Musk later said a small change to the application programming interface had "massive ramifications" and complained the "extremely brittle" code stack would "need a complete rewrite." But in an article highlighting "the high cost of cutting expenses," Platformer reports that a single site reliability engineer tasked with shifting from free to paid access to the Twitter API—a major project "that is linked to several interconnected, critical systems"—messed up.

The engineer made a "bad configuration change" that "basically broke the Twitter API," a Twitter employee tells Platformer. Consequences included "bringing down much of Twitter's internal tools along with the public-facing APIs," according to the outlet. Some employees say a single change can cause chaos as a result of tech issues that predate Musk's ownership of Twitter. But following steady layoffs, the company has fewer than 550 full-time engineers, who look to be spread thin, leaving Twitter "increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic outages," per Platformer. Indeed, Monday's outage "suggests there are likely to be similar problems in the near future." Expect fixes to take awhile. As an employee tells the outlet, "this is what happens when you fire 90% of the company." (More Twitter stories.)

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