Twitter suffers global outage, remains unavailable for thousands of users

"Significant backend server architecture changes rolled out," says Musk.
Ameya Paleja

Twitter users across the globe from New York to Tokyo reported trouble using the service on Wednesday, December 28, between seven and 10 in the evening Eastern Time, Engadget reported. The issue peaked around 7:44 PM ET when over 10,000 users reported their problems at Dowdetector.com.

The unavailability of the service was also reported directly to the CEO Elon Musk, who calmly tweeted back:

The incident, which seems to have been resolved later, brought to the fore fears about what the social media site would be like after Musk became CEO and brought in his cost-cutting measures.

Twitter at risk of breakdowns

As an internet-based service, Twitter is always at risk of not being available to its users. However, following Musk's decision to lay off nearly half the staff at the social media company, many teams were left with skeletal staff.

While The Guardian reported that these layoffs occurred in the departments that covered human rights, machine learning ethics, curation, and accessibility, last month, a Washington Post report quoted a former employee who said that six critical systems did not have any engineers.

On Christmas Eve, Musk boasted in a tweet that the service was running,

So, the unavailability of the service could easily have been attributed to Musk's cost-cutting measures that he has been implementing since he took over in October and which he claims have moved the company away from the risk of bankruptcy.

What caused the breakdown, then?

According to details available with Downdetector.com, the majority of the users faced troubles accessing the website, while only a fraction of users had issues when using the app.

Isik Mater, the director of research at NetBlocks, an internet monitoring service, told The New York Times that the problem faced by users was widespread and seen in multiple countries. According to Mater, Twitter's application programming interface (API) was affected, which served the mobile app and many aspects of the desktop site.

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Users who could not access the website saw a message that read, "something went wrong, but don't fret — it's not your fault." However, Twitter is yet to comment on what went wrong and caused the outage.

Considering that it is now an Elon Musk company, one can presume that Musk's tweet that followed later is the official communique about the incident.

If that were the sole reason for the outage, it raises more questions about what's happening at Twitter. Wasn't Musk, who is looking into the smallest of details at the company, aware of these changes being rolled out when users reported problems? Or is this a coverup for something that went crashing down and had to be revived by engineers who still remain at Twitter?

Twitter's longest outage was reported in 2016 when the service remained inaccessible for over two and a half hours.