Twitter’s Wednesday outage was reportedly because an employee accidentally deleted data and the team that could fix it left in November: ‘It’s chaos here right now’

February 10, 2023, 5:34 PM UTC
A picture of Elon Musk’s verified Twitter account.
A glitch causing problems at Twitter couldn’t be fixed because the team that normally handled such problems had quit, a new report said.
MATT CARDY—Getty Images

Twitter has been having some problems lately. Within just a few months of Elon Musk taking over as “Chief Twit” in October, he fired more than half of the company’s almost 7,500 staffers, tried out a disastrous new blue check mark system, and lost over 40% of revenue from Twitter’s top 30 advertisers within a few months.

But the hits just keep coming, and on Wednesday, Twitter had its first major outage since Musk took over: Users in the U.S. and Canada were unable to send messages or post tweets for around 30 minutes. Instead, they saw an error message: “You are over the daily limit for sending tweets.”  

People were eventually able to send out tweets again but could not follow other users or send them messages. During the ordeal, Musk emailed Twitter employees to “pause for now on new feature development in favor of maximizing system stability and robustness” with the Super Bowl around the corner. 

But new reporting on how the outage happened in the first place has come to light. An engineer at Twitter had accidentally deleted files for an internal service that controls how many tweets users can send out, Zoë Schiffer and Casey Newton reported in Platformer on Thursday. And the team working on the service that would have ultimately fixed the problem had left the company in November.

“As the adage goes, ‘You ship your org chart,’” an employee told Platformer. “It’s chaos here right now, so we’re shipping chaos.”

The Twitter outage happened against a backdrop of extreme cost-cutting measures that the company is taking. Musk has put Twitter’s office furniture up for sale, stopped paying rent for the company’s offices, and is even considering taking away expensive yet instrumental software that Twitter employees use to track issues for users and on the social media site. 

But Twitter’s extreme layoffs may be its most significant cost-cutting measure. And many employees who were not laid off have left on their own accord. Platformer reported that a common greeting among Twitter employees is, “Where are you interviewing?” 

Musk has said that his efforts to lower expenses are saving the company from bankruptcy, and that it is “trending toward breakeven.”   

Twitter, which no longer has a communications team, did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment. 

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