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Twitter's Potential Disintegration As A Result Of Engineers Leaving Because Of Elon Musk's Severance Policy

Twitter's Potential Disintegration As A Result Of Engineers Leaving Because Of Elon Musk's Severance Policy
According to reports citing data from business insiders and programmers who were fired or resigned this week, Elon Musk, the new owner of the microblogging website Twitteractions’ at the company soon after he acquired it has caused an exodus of software engineers who keep the world's de-facto public square running.
Many people are worried that Twitter will soon deteriorate to the point where it will crash as a result of this.
This week, Musk fired nearly two dozen programmers who were essential to the stability of the microblogging platform, ending a highly visible feud. After he demanded that they promise to work "extremely hardcore" by Thursday evening or resign with severance pay, hundreds of engineers and other employees quit.
The platform is losing employees just as it is getting ready for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which starts on Sunday, according to the most recent departures. It is one of the busiest times on Twitter in terms of the volume of Tweets, but it also puts a lot of strain on the platform's systems.
"It does look like he is going to blow up Twitter," says Robert Graham, a veteran cybersecurity entrepreneur. "I cannot see how the lights will not go out at any moment" -- although many recent Twitter departures predicted a more gradual death.
Numerous Twitter staff members who still have access to the company's internal Slack messaging board reportedly announced their intention to leave the organization before Thursday's deadline by posting farewell messages, a salute emoji, or other typically associated symbols on the messaging board. Numerous people also announced their retirement on Twitter.
Some people were so incensed by Musk's alleged carelessness earlier this week that they took to Twitter to make fun of the Tesla and Space X CEO. One of the engineers said, leaving lipstick stains on his lips, "Kiss my ass, Elon." She had been fired.
After the deadline on Thursday, Twitter management issued an unsigned email informing staff that the company's offices would be closed and employee badge access would be suspended until Monday.
No explanation was provided, according to reports citing two employees who received the email—one of whom accepted the redundancy pay and the other of whom is still on the payroll. The employees opted not to give their names for fear of reprisals from the business.
With the help of a dependable phalanx of Tesla programmers, Musk appeared unconcerned as he ransacked a once-friendly workspace.
"The best people are staying, so I'm not super worried," he tweeted on Thursday night. However, it quickly became apparent that some critical programming teams had been completely demolished.
According to reports citing a company employee who left the job on Thursday but was still receiving company emails, Musk also sent emails to all hands on Friday summoning "anyone who actually writes software" to his command ledge on Twitter's 10th floor at 2 p.m. and requesting that they take a flight into San Francisco if they are not locals.
After taking over the company less than three weeks ago, Musk fired half of Twitter's 7,500 full-time employees and an undetermined number of contractors in charge of content moderation and other crucial tasks. The ultimatum from this week was another.
The Associated Press reported that three engineers who left the company earlier this week told them that they expected major disruptions for Twitter's more than 230 million users because more than two-thirds of the engineers who worked there before Musk bought the company appear to have left.
Even though they do not foresee a near-term collapse, Twitter could become very unreliable, especially if Musk makes significant changes without conducting extensive off-platform testing.
There were hints of wear and tear prior to Thursday's massive emigration. In their feeds and direct messages, users reported seeing more spam and scams. Missing tweets were reported by engineers. Strange error messages were presented to users.
Nothing crucial has been damaged as of yet. Yet.
"There is a betting pool for when that happens," one of the engineers was quoted as saying in the AP report. None of the engineers divulged their names because of fear of retaliation from Musk that could impact their careers and finances.
Another user warned that Twitter might crash if "high volume suddenly comes in" as servers were shutting down.
"World Cup is the biggest event for Twitter. That is the first thing you learn when you onboard at Twitter," he said.
The earlier layoffs of curation staff were already having an impact on Twitter's trending pages. Musk tweeted on Tuesday that he had started deactivating "microservices" that he viewed as pointless "bloatware."
"Less than 20% are actually needed for Twitter to work!" he tweeted.
Engineers objected, saying Musk was ignorant of the subject.
"Microservices are how most modern large web services organise their code to allow software engineers to work quickly and efficiently," says Gergely Orosz, author of the Pragmatic Engineer blog and a former Uber programmer.
These services are numerous, and they each manage a different feature. Instead of testing the removal of microservices in a simulated real-world setting, Musk's team appears to have been updating Twitter live on everyone's computers.
And in fact, one microservice that users use to log into Twitter and confirm their identity via SMS message briefly went down. Two-factor authentication is the term for it.
"You have hit the limit for SMS codes. Try again in 24 hours," Twitter advised when a reporter tried to download their microblogging history archive. Luckily, the email verification alternative worked.
With the exception of team leaders, who were all laid off, engineering team clusters had decreased from about 15 people before Musk to three or four before the resignations on Thursday, according to one of the recently separated Twitter engineers who worked in core services.
More institutional knowledge left after that, and it cannot be replaced immediately.
"Everything could break," the programmer said.
The engineers claim that training to work an on-call rotation for some services takes six months. Programmers must always be available due to such rotations. If the person on call is unfamiliar with the code base and is frantically paging through reference manuals, failures may occur.
"If I stayed I would have been on-call constantly with little support for an indeterminate amount of time on several additional complex systems I had no experience in," tweeted Peter Clowes, an engineer who took the severance.
"Running even relatively boring systems takes people who know where to go when something breaks," said Blaine Cook, Twitter's founding engineer, who left in 2008.
He thinks it's dangerous to pare down a programming team to its bare minimum without first bug-proofing the code.
"It is like saying, these firefighters are not doing anything. So, we will just fire them all."
The engineers are also worried that Musk will stop supporting the tools needed for removing illegal content from Twitter or that there won't be enough staff to maintain them.
Another issue to be concerned about is hackers. Minimizing damage when they have previously violated the system depends on spotting them quickly and expelling them.
The cybersecurity team at Twitter underwent a significant PR setback in August when Peiter Zatko, the highly regarded security chief let go by the company earlier this year, filed a whistleblower complaint declaring the platform to be a cybersecurity mess. It is unclear how Musk's Twitter housecleaning has affected the group.
"So much of the security infrastructure of a large organisation like Twitter is in people's heads," said Graham, the cybersecurity veteran. "And when they are gone, you know, it all goes with them.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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