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Twitter at risk of fraying as engineers pull back over Musk upheaval – East Bay Times

Frank Bajak

Elon Musk’s management bombing on Twitter has left the ranks of software engineers who maintain and run the world’s de facto public squares so thin that industry insiders and others have been fired or resigned this week. Programmers agree: it actually crashes.

Musk ended a very public discussion with nearly 20 coders critical to the microblogging platform’s stability this week by ordering them to be fired. Hundreds of engineers and other workers then quit after demanding they commit to doing “very hardcore” work by Thursday night or step down on severance pay.

The latest departure means the platform is losing workers as it gears up for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which starts on Sunday. It’s one of Twitter’s busiest events, and the spike in tweets puts a lot of strain on the system.

Veteran cybersecurity entrepreneur Robert Graham said: “There’s no way the light can go out all the time.

Hundreds of employees signaled their departure before the deadline on Thursday, posting goodbye messages, salute emojis or other familiar symbols on internal Slack message boards, according to employees who still have access. Also, dozens officially announced their signing off on Twitter.

Earlier in the week, some people were so upset by Musk’s perception of recklessness that they took to Twitter to insult the CEOs of Tesla and SpaceX. “Kiss your ass, Elon,” said one engineer, smearing lipstick. she had been fired.

Twitter management sent an unsigned email after Thursday’s deadline, saying offices would be closed and access to employee badges would be disabled until Monday.By two employees who received the email and no reason was given. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

With the trusty phalanx of a Tesla programmer by his side, Musk, who had trolled his previously cheerful workspace, didn’t seem to care.

“I’m not too worried because the best people are staying,” he tweeted Thursday night. became clear.

Musk summoned “anyone who actually writes software” to his command perch on Twitter’s 10th floor Friday at 2pm to show how he’s got a grip on programmers. We have sent a company-wide email to He quit Thursday, but was still getting company emails.

After taking over Twitter less than three weeks ago, Musk laid off half of the company’s 7,500 full-time staff and countless contractors responsible for content moderation and other critical tasks. Then came this week’s ultimatum.

The three engineers who retired this week told The Associated Press that they have caused considerable discomfort to Twitter’s more than 230 million users now that well over two-thirds of the pre-Musk core services engineers are gone. I explained why I expected it. They don’t expect it to fall apart anytime soon, but Twitter can get very rough around the edges, especially if Musk makes big changes without much off-platform testing.

Signs of the fray were evident before Thursday’s mass exit. People are reporting seeing more spam and scams in their feeds and direct messages. An engineer reported a dropped tweet. People got weird error messages.

Still, nothing important is broken. yet.

“There’s a pool of bets on when that happens,” said one of the engineers. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from Musk, which could affect their careers and finances.

Another user said Twitter was shutting down its servers and “may start crashing if a lot of volume suddenly comes in.”

“The World Cup is the biggest event for Twitter.

Twitter’s trending page was already suffering from previous layoffs of curation employees. Engineering fireworks began on Tuesday when Musk announced on his Twitter account that he had begun shutting down “microservices” he deemed unnecessary “bloatware.”

“Twitter actually needs less than 20% to work!” he tweeted.

This was met with objection from an engineer who told Musk that he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Gergely Orosz, author of the Pragmatic Engineer blog and former Uber programmer, says: There are many such services, each managing different functions. Instead of testing microservice deletions in a simulated real-world environment, Musk’s team appears to be updating his Twitter live on everyone’s computers.

In fact, one microservice temporarily stopped working. This is the service used to verify your identity on Twitter via her SMS message when you log in. This is called two-factor authentication.

“SMS code limit reached. Please try again in 24 hours. Luckily, the email verification alternative worked.

One of the newly segregated Twitter engineers who worked in core services told the AP that the engineering team’s cluster had grown from about 15 people before Mask (all excluding team leaders who were laid off) to 3-3 before his resignation on Thursday. He said it was down to four.

Then came more institutional knowledge that could not be replaced overnight.

“Everything can break,” said the programmer.

Engineers say some services take six months to train to do an on-call rotation. Such rotations require a programmer to be available at all times. But if the person in charge is unfamiliar with the codebase, frantic reading of her reference manual can lead to a cascade of failures.

Engineer Peter Clowes, who received his severance pay, said, “If I had stayed, I would have been constantly on the phone with little indeterminate hours of support on some additional complex systems I had no experience with.” would have been,” he tweeted.

“To run even a relatively boring system, you need someone who knows where to go when something breaks,” said Brain Cook, a Twitter founder engineer who retired in 2008. It’s risky to drastically reduce programming labor to a minimal crew without bulletproofing the code first,” he says. He said.

“It’s like saying, ‘Firefighters aren’t doing anything.’ So we’re just going to fire them all.

Engineers also fear Musk will shut down tools involved in moderating content and removing illegal material that people upload to Twitter.

Another concern is hackers. If they have infiltrated your system in the past, they need to be detected and kicked out quickly to mitigate the damage.

It’s not clear what impact Musk’s Twitter sweep has had on cybersecurity teams. In August of this year, his much-respected head of security, Peiter Zatko, was fired from the company earlier this year, and he filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that the platform was cybersecurity. It hit me hard. shambles.

“A lot of the security infrastructure in a large organization like Twitter is in people’s heads,” says cybersecurity veteran Graham. “And when they’re gone, it’s all with them.”


AP Technology Writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2022/11/18/twitter-risks-fraying-as-engineers-exit-over-musk-upheaval/ Twitter at risk of fraying as engineers pull back over Musk upheaval – East Bay Times

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