Consultants Predict Twitter Outage & Advise Downloading Your Information


Many in the technology community tweeted warnings of an imminent Twitter outage after several tweets by Elon Musk caused concern about Twitter’s ability to remain online.

Musk reportedly ordered a complete freeze on Twitter’s code base and tweeted that he’s turning off large portions of the Twitter code base, both of which caused grave concern in the technology circles on Twitter.

Experts such as a Chief Technology Officer, a former senior Twitter software engineer, a technology entrepreneur and an influential security expert tweeted warnings of a possible Twitter outage, encouraging users to download their Twitter data now.

Predictions of How Twitter Will Fail

A recent article in the MIT Technology Review suggested that a Twitter breakdown would gradually reveal itself in little errors, some seen and others not noticed that eventually build to one big problem.

The article (Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks) quoted Ben Krueger, a Site Reliability Engineer, explaining why:

“The larger catastrophic failures are a little more titillating, but the biggest risk is the smaller things starting to degrade,” says Ben Krueger, a site reliability engineer who has more than two decades of experience in the tech industry.”

In the same article, an anonymous Twitter engineer offered a scenario of how Twitter will go down:

“Things will be broken. Things will be broken more often. Things will be broken for longer periods of time. Things will be broken in more severe ways,” he says. “Everything will compound until, eventually, it’s not usable.”

Musk Apology for Slow Performance

The growing awareness that Twitter may fail within days began after Musk tweeted apologies for slow service.

Musk tweeted:

“Btw, I’d like to apologize for Twitter being super slow in many countries. App is doing >1000 poorly batched RPCs just to render a home timeline!”

An RPC is a Remote Procedure Call, which is a protocol for software to communicate with each other.

Musk was essentially blaming the slow service on too many Remote Procedure Calls slowing down the service (shifting the blame away from the fact that the company is operating with a skeleton crew).

A former Twitter Senior Infrastructure Engineer, Sam Pullara, tweeted a response explaining how RPCs are not the problem.

He explained that Musk was confusing Twitter’s backend with the “App” because the Twitter app does not use RPCs.

Sam also rebutted the idea that the RPCs are the problem outside of the USA, explaining that all countries shared the same RPCs, so it’s not the backend that is the problem.

He tweeted that the problem is not RPCs:

Sam continued his explanation:

Sam Pullara is not only the former Twitter Senior Infrastructure Engineer, he wrote the code base that preceded the current code base and is also the former Chief Technologist of Yahoo.

Pullara is one of the people who know how Twitter works from the code level so when he says something it’s spoken with that level of authority and background.

Musk waved aside Sam’s explanation and not only insisted that the problem was with RPCs, he announced that he ordered the removal of what he felt was superfluous code.

Elon tweeted:

“Part of today will be turning off the “microservices” bloatware. Less than 20% are actually needed for Twitter to work!”

Twitter Locks Down Code Base

The second issue that caused concern was described in a tweet by Zoë Schiffer (@ZoeSchiffer) Managing Editor of Platformer (@platformer) that Twitter is locking down their code base.

In  she revealed what is going on at Twitter in three tweets (1, 2, 3):

“NEW: Twitter has lockdown it’s code base, freezing production changes to Twitter systems until further notice. Exceptions made if Elon explicitly says so, according to an internal email. 1/

…During a normal production freeze, engineers can commit code, they just can’t deploy it. This is different. 2/

…Twitter employees I’ve spoken to aren’t sure what’s going on. 3/3”

Multiple posts from technology professionals, coders and CTOs began tweeting the prudence of downloading your Twitter data now rather than later because of the perception that Twitter may suffer an outage in a matter of days, not months.

Ian Coldwater, a noted computer security specialist (who has their own Wikipedia page) tweeted their concern about Twitter:

Silicon Valley Tech entrepreneur Anil Dash (@anildash) tweeted:

“For people outside the industry: This is as credible a voice as you can find. Act accordingly.

Download your twitter data here: https://twitter.com/settings/download_your_data”

Anil’s reference to a credible voice was to Erica Joy (@EricaJoy), the Chief Technology Officer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Erica tweeted that there is a “strong chance” of a Twitter outage within days:

Twitter Users Unable to Download Archives

Some users tried to download their Twitter archives but discovered that Twitter’s SMS was experiencing an outage or the system for downloading the archive no longer functioned.

Is Twitter Outage Coming Sooner than Later?

Many of the people who were warning about an imminent Twitter outage were highly credible people with deep knowledge of technology and even expertise with how Twitter works.

Influential security expert, Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane), whom MIT Technology Review recently wrote was Spilling Silicon Valley’s secrets, one tweet at a time, tweeted her thoughts about the viability of Twitter.

She explained that she had already downloaded her Twitter archive over the weekend because she had doubts about what would happen to Twitter.

If someone like Jane Manchun Wong is worried about what’s going to happen to Twitter, as is a former senior Twitter engineer, and they are both downloading their Twitter archive, then maybe it’s prudent to consider that Twitter’s ability to stay online is dwindling faster than is generally visible.

Featured image by Shutterstock/Krakenimages.com





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