Elon Musk’s Twitter Teeters on the Edge After Another 1,200 Leave
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Elon Musk’s Twitter Teeters on the Edge After Another 1,200 Leave

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Elon Musk’s Twitter Teeters on the Edge After Another 1,200 Leave
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Mr. Musk sent emails on Friday asking to learn about Twitter’s underlying technology as key infrastructure teams have been decimated.

Elon Musk sent a flurry of emails to Twitter employees on Friday morning with a plea.

“Anyone who actually writes software, please report to the 10th floor at 2 p.m. today,” he wrote in a two-paragraph message, which was viewed by The New York Times. “Thanks, Elon.”

About 30 minutes later, Mr. Musk sent another email saying he wanted to learn about Twitter’s “tech stack,” a term used to describe a company’s software and related systems. Then in another email, he asked some people to fly to Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco to meet in person.

Twitter is teetering on the edge as Mr. Musk remakes the company after buying it for $44 billion last month. The billionaire has pushed relentlessly to put his imprint on the social media service, slashing 50 percent of its workforce, firing dissenters, pursuing new subscription products, and delivering a harsh message that the company needs to shape up or it will face bankruptcy.

Now the question is whether Mr. Musk, 51, has gone too far. On Thursday, hundreds of Twitter employees resigned after Mr. Musk gave them a deadline to decide whether to leave or stay. So many workers chose to depart that Twitter users began questioning whether the site would survive, tweeting farewell messages to the service and turning hashtags like #TwitterMigration and #TwitterTakeover into trending topics.

Some internal estimates showed that at least 1,200 full-time employees resigned on Thursday, three people close to the company said. Twitter had 7,500 full-time employees at the end of October, which dropped to about 3,700 after mass layoffs this month.

The employee numbers are likely to remain fluid as the dust settles on the exits, with confusion abounding over who is keeping a tally of workers and running other workplace systems. Some employees who quit said they were separating themselves from the company by disconnecting from email and logging out of the internal messaging system Slack because human resources representatives were not available.

Mr. Musk and his representatives on Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

Elon Musk pushed relentlessly to put his imprint on the social media service, slashing 50 percent of its work force.
Credit…Ryan Lash/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

But the billionaire tweeted on Friday what he said would be changed to Twitter’s content policy. Hateful tweets will no longer be promoted algorithmically in users’ feeds, he said, but they will not be taken down. He also reinstated several previously banned accounts, including those of the comedian Kathy Griffin and the author Jordan Peterson, and posted a poll asking users to vote on whether Twitter should reinstate former President Donald J. Trump’s account.

Perhaps the most crucial question now is how Twitter can keep running after the giant reduction in its workforce in such a short time. The effects of the cuts and resignations have played out across the company’s technology teams, people with knowledge of the matter said.

One team known as Twitter Command Center, a 20-person organization crucial to preventing outages and technology failures during high-traffic events, had multiple people from around the world resign, two former employees said. The “core services” team, which handles computing architecture, was cut to four people from more than 100. Other teams that deal with how media appears in tweets or how profiles show follower counts were down to zero people.

“Wednesday offered a clean exit and 80 percent of the remaining were gone,” Peter Clowes, a senior software engineer, tweeted on Thursday about the departures on his team. “3/75 engineers stayed.” He said on Twitter that he quit on Thursday.

Mr. Musk is also considering shuttering one of Twitter’s three main U.S. data centers, a location known as SMF1 in Sacramento, which is used to store information needed to run the social media site, four people with knowledge of the effort said. If the data center in Sacramento is taken offline, it will leave the company with data centers in Atlanta and Portland, Ore., with potentially less backup computing capacity in case something fails.

Twitter is still operating, but it may become harder for the company to fix serious issues when they come up, former employees said. One former Twitter engineer likened the service’s current state to Wile E. Coyote, the Looney Tunes cartoon character, as he runs off the edge of a cliff. Though he may still be running in midair for some time, once he looks down, he drops like a stone.

“The larger and more prominent a platform is, the more care and feeding is needed to keep it running and maintain the expectations of the users,” said Richard Forno, the assistant director of the Center for Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “It’s a huge challenge.”

Mr. Musk sent a flurry of emails to Twitter employees on Friday morning with a plea: “Anyone who actually writes software, please report to the 10th floor at 2 p.m. today.”
Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

The employee reductions are coinciding with Twitter’s entering one of its busiest periods in terms of visitors to the site. The World Cup, which begins on Sunday, is expected to bring a deluge of traffic to Twitter, which is the world’s fourth most visited website, according to Similarweb, a digital intelligence platform that tracks web traffic. Twitter gets 6.9 billion visits each month, slightly more than Instagram’s 6.4 billion, though far fewer than Google, YouTube or Facebook, according to Similarweb estimates.

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On Twitter late Thursday, Mr. Musk professed confidence that the service would be fine.

“The best people are staying, so I’m not super worried,” he tweeted.

Fortune reported earlier that 1,000 to 1,200 Twitter employees had resigned. The Information earlier reported on some of Twitter’s infrastructure issues. The Verge earlier reported on departures from the Twitter Command Center.

Keeping a site like Twitter online is typically a task for senior engineers, who must constantly guard against cyberattacks and monitor web traffic to ensure servers are not overloaded, Dr. Forno said. If too many veteran employees depart, leaving Twitter without the expertise or manpower to monitor or quickly fix issues, problems could start, he said.

Many tech issues can be fixed remotely, but some may require workers at Twitter’s data centers around the country, Dr. Forno added. If issues fall through the cracks, Twitter users are not likely to see the site disappear all at once, at least at first. But timelines could start refreshing more slowly, the site might struggle to load and users would find Twitter to be full of glitches.

“It’s like putting a car on the road, hitting the accelerator and then the driver jumps out,” he said. “How far is it going to go before it crashes?”

Inside Twitter on Friday, remaining employees said they were bewildered by Mr. Musk’s changing directives. The company had said on Thursday afternoon that it was closing “our office buildings” and disabling employee badge access until Monday. But in his emails on Friday, Mr. Musk appeared to want to talk to people in person at the company’s San Francisco offices.

Employees were also having difficulties figuring out who was still on staff, and what areas of infrastructure needed more support to keep things up and running.

One worker who wanted to resign said she had spent two days looking for her manager, whose identity she no longer knew because so many people had quit in the days beforehand. After finally finding her direct supervisor, she tendered her resignation. The next day, her supervisor also quit.

Others were spending hours trying to track down which teams they were on. Some said they were asked to oversee duties they had never handled before.

The changes were occurring in a near-total information vacuum internally, employees said. Twitter’s internal communications staff has been laid off or left, and workers said they were looking outward for information from media articles. Mr. Musk has increasingly downplayed the role of traditional media over the past few months, citing Twitter as one of the best platforms for the rise in “citizen journalism,” as he put it.

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Twitter Staff Wipeout Under Musk Spurs Fear Site Will Decay

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Twitter Staff Wipeout Under Musk Spurs Fear Site Will Decay
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Twitter Inc.’s mass exodus of employees leaves the platform vulnerable to a broad range of malfunctions. The social network will succumb to a major glitch at some point, technologists predict. It’s just a matter of when.

The social network’s staff has shrunk to a fraction of its size since Elon Musk took over at the end of October, through layoffs and resignations. Musk this week asked employees to sign on to a more “hardcore” version of their jobs or leave; astonishing numbers opted out.

 

 

There are other concerns beyond keeping the site available, according to Hope. With fewer employees, Twitter may have a harder time grappling with thorny issues like content-takedown requests from foreign governments, the physical security of its data centers, or major events that lead to spikes in traffic and further tax its systems.

 

Then there’s the issue of user harm. If there aren’t enough adults in the room to constrain the poor behavior of some users, as Muffett put it, it could lead to a surge in upsetting trending content and abuse, further alienating visitors and advertisers.

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Much of the company’s trust and safety team declined to continue their employment at Twitter past Musk’s deadline for employees Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter. About half of the company’s information operations and threat disruptions teams also resigned, according to a person familiar — leaving just four US-based employees left to stamp out foreign disinformation campaigns on the platform.

This leaves entire swaths of Twitter’s global audience without content moderation, including the entire Asia-Pacific region, the person said, except for one contractor who had been hired to help with spam in the Korean market.

On Thursday evening, just after hundreds of Twitter employees resigned from the company, the website Downdetector.com, which gathers reports of websites not working, showed a spike in outages at Twitter. The issues continued into Friday, according to data on Downdetector’s website.

Meanwhile, Musk posted late on Thursday evening that the site had “just hit another all-time high in Twitter usage lol.”

Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, and media analyst said that while more people have likely been on Twitter in recent days, it was not necessarily a sign of any sustainable growth.

“The analogy people use is rubbernecking like with a car accident or a trainwreck, and we’ve seen similar activity on platforms like Twitter when crises occurred,” he said, adding there was no evidence for “quality” or “sustainability” of growth on the platform, no matter what Musk had said.

And for Hope, the former Facebook engineer, Twitter’s path forward without a catastrophe is looking “narrow, and growing more narrow by the day.”

“Twitter is the public square, for better or worse,” he said. “There’s nothing like it, and I don’t think anyone wins by us losing it.”

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Apple’s iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro will reportedly have different USB-C ports

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Apple's iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro will reportedly have different USB-C ports
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Apple will reportedly offer different USB-C ports on its iPhones for next year, making the Pro model, a bit more of an attractive purchase.

While we don’t really know what next year’s iPhone will look like, we do know for a fact that it will arrive with a USB-C port. Now, we’re getting news that Apple could offer two different kinds of USB-C ports on its iPhones, one that will come with the standard iPhone and iPhone Plus model, and another that will be used in Pro variants.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will most certainly be getting rid of the Lightning connector on its iPhone 15, finally shifting over to USB-C. What’s interesting is that Kuo reports that Apple will use two different USB-C ports on its iPhones for next year. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will reportedly have a standard USB-C port, with wired transfer speeds that will be on par with the current Lightning connector. The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will have substantially better transfer speeds, with Kuo stating the phones “will support at least USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3.”

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This is quite a bit of news, considering that users have been complaining for quite some time with regard to the transfer speeds found on the iPhone. Apple’s Lightning connector originally made its debut in 2012, replacing the 30-pin dock connector that was made popular by Apple’s iPod products. The Lightning connector was compact and best of all, it could be inserted into the charging port in either direction. This was quite a big deal at the time, considering that other phones were using microUSB, and USB-C wouldn’t begin showing up in phones until 2015.

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A decade after the launch of the Lightning connector, while most products had moved onto using USB-C, Apple still managed to stick with the Lightning connector, despite its shortcomings. Whether it was forced to adopt USB-C or it has done so on its own accord, we know the iPhone 15 with USB-C will be a big deal, and it will be coming in 2023.

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SwiftKey is unexpectedly back on iOS

Madison Franz

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SwiftKey is unexpectedly back on iOS
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Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard has unexpectedly returned to the App Store. The company officially discontinued support for the keyboard and removed it from the App Store in October, but now it’s available for iOS users once again.

“Based on customer feedback, SwiftKey iOS has been relisted on the Apple App Store,” Microsoft’s Caitlin Roulston said in a statement to The Verge. “Please visit Support.SwiftKey.com for more information.”

Despite the return, SwiftKey’s latest update is still from August 11th, 2021. It’s unclear if or when it will be updated — users had complained about issues ahead of the discontinuation — but it seems like there will be some changes to look forward to. Vishnu Nath, Microsoft’s VP and GM of OneNote and the Office product group, encouraged fans to “stay tuned to what the team has in store.” Pedram Rezaei, Microsoft’s CTO of its maps and local services division, said that the company will be “investing heavily in the keyboard.”

ALSO READ  SwiftKey is unexpectedly back on iOS

SwiftKey originally became popular on Android and eventually launched on iOS in 2014 with the release of iOS 8, which enabled users to install third-party keyboards. Microsoft then acquired SwiftKey in 2016. The app has remained available on Android.

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