Twitter’s glitches escalate as staff members leave

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Waves of layoffs and departures from Twitter last week led many users to fear the service could face a sudden shutdown of some kind, as hashtags like #RIPTwitter and #TwitterDown trended across the U.S.

Yes but: The social network is far more likely to experience an increasing volume of glitches, lags, and decay at the edges, as small glitches pile up and fix teams have been decimated.

lead the news: The evisceration of half of Twitter’s staff and most of its contractors and senior executives, coupled with a series of rushed product updates over the past two weeks, have left Twitter vulnerable and alerted users to potential problems.

The breakdowns so far they’re not in Twitter’s core functions — posting and reading messages — but around the edges.

  • Copyright: Twitter’s automated copyright takedown system had been down since Sunday night, Forbes reported, allowing users to upload blocks of copyrighted movies that sat online for hours before being taken down.
  • Compromised Accounts: Users who have reported compromised accounts say the company has been slow to respond with solutions to recover their profiles. A reporter who spoke to Axios said Twitter hadn’t responded to their report for days, and when it did, it couldn’t offer a viable solution to recover it.
  • Safety: Last week, some users reported problems trying to generate two-factor authentication codes via SMS text messages that would help them log into their accounts.
  • Download data: Others have reported problems trying to download archives of their data, per Wired.

Advertisers are more concerned compared to everyday users.

  • Some major advertisers suspended their Twitter campaigns while Musk took the reins.
  • Advertisers are particularly concerned about the lack of oversight from the trust and safety teams that have been monitoring hate speech and misinformation on the platform.
  • Marketers Axios spoke with last week cite slower responses from the company to reports of inappropriate content appearing on the platform where their ads may appear.
  • Anonymous reports (like This) are starting to surface suggesting that Twitter’s backend advertising technology is malfunctioning, and users have reported seeing out-of-date ads in their feeds.

Like older sales executives Exiting Twitter, advertisers tell Axios it has become difficult to figure out who within Twitter they should consult with to optimize their campaigns or even pause them.

  • GroupM, the world’s largest media buyer, warns marketers that until Twitter fixes a number of issues impacting content moderation, it remains a “high-stakes” media buy, according to Digiday.
  • Ad agency executives told Axios that Musk’s decision to reinstate Donald Trump’s account would cause many clients to pull their campaigns from the platform.

Between the lines: Many of the warnings about Twitter’s technical problems come from current and recently deceased employees who say the teams responsible for managing Twitter’s infrastructure have been gutted.

  • A former staffer said Musk’s mass layoffs earlier this month impacted about 90% of the product and engineering ‘health’ team responsible for helping content moderators review reported cases of abuse.
  • Of the 560 people in that group, only about 60 stayed last week, the source said. That team was building a system to help Twitter respond to reports faster.

Being smart: Experts have warned that the World Cup, which kicked off on Sunday, could be a particularly major stress point for the app’s hosting capabilities.

  • In 2018, Twitter recorded 150 billion impressions during the global soccer event, making it one of the heaviest traffic periods ever for the company.

Musk himself doesn’t seem concerned about problems caused by radical changes to support teams and products.

  • He continues to boast that Twitter is seeing more usage under his ownership and mockery Brands and users concerned about Trump’s account return.

What to watch: Twitter may face bigger technical challenges as Musk looks to roll out new programs and features to the platform.

  • If those changes cause bugs or problems, software veterans argue, that’s when Musk will most need the expertise of developers who were fired or left.

Or notes: On Monday night, Musk announced a second deferment of his new $8 a month top priority subscription plan that comes with a blue verified check mark.

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