by Glenn Chapman
SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES — Twitter on Monday suffered a brief but unprecedented outage with users worldwide reporting they could no longer read links to articles from outside websites.
“Some parts of Twitter may not be working as expected right now,” the company’s tech support account said in a tweet, blaming the problem on “unintended consequences” from an update to the platform.
The breakdown, which appeared fixed in less than an hour, comes as the Elon Musk-owned social media giant was trying hard to stabilize after several rounds of layoffs saw more than two-thirds of staff let go.
Experts say Twitter is running on a skeleton staff, leaving the platform vulnerable to outages as well as disinformation and harmful content given the fewer numbers to keep the site up and running.
During the outage, users trying to click into links were greeted with an error message saying “your API plan does not include access to this endpoint.”
An API, or Application Programming Interface, refers to Twitter software that is made available to outside developers to make their own adaptations of the platform.
Twitter said last month that it will discontinue allowing free access to outside developers as the company seeks new ways to raise revenue.
Since Musk took ownership of Twitter, the platform has been riven by chaos, with major advertisers fleeing, threatening the site’s main source of revenue.
“A small API change had massive ramifications,” Musk said in a tweet about the disruption on Monday.
“The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason. Will ultimately need a complete rewrite,” the billionaire said in reference to the platform’s programming and software.
The latest problems with the messaging platform came a week after reports of another round of layoffs including product managers, big data experts and engineers working on machine learning and platform reliability.
It also adds to a string of technical snafus, including an incident where tweets by Musk suddenly dominated the feeds of millions of users, even those not following the tycoon.
According to Insider Intelligence, Twitter’s total monthly users will fall by some 32 million users between 2022 and 2024 from 368 million worldwide last year.
With many brands fleeing, the social network saw its revenue and adjusted profit fall by about 40 per cent year-on-year in December, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing people close to the company.
Musk has tried to wean Twitter from advertising and promote subscriptions as a new way to bring in cash — an idea that Facebook-owner Meta is testing as well — but so far the results have been disappointing.