Twitter’s Infrastructure Continues to Crumble, Silently

David Frum, on Twitter:

I’m doing an experiment. On my computer, I am checking the latest tweets by people I follow. On my phone, I’m checking whether their most recent tweets are showing up in the “Following” column. I’m just getting started, but even in the first dozen cases, Twitter failed to show me an absolute majority of the tweets I had requested to see. That’s the reason your engagement is down, people: Twitter is withholding requested content from those who requested it.

For me, Twitter is most valuable as an information source. But Twitter is now rapidly mutating into a source that capriciously withholds information I asked for - including from such highly official sources as the Tate Gallery in London.

It’s as if, in the days of the old newspaper, my subscription were delivered with random stories scissored out by the publisher itself, for some capricious whim of the publisher’s own.

It’s worse than that, though, because if you were delivered a newspaper with random stories scissored out, you’d know that there were missing stories. You wouldn’t know what they were, but you’d see the gaping holes in the paper. With Twitter now, there’s no indication that you’re missing tweets — let alone a huge number of tweets. And to be clear, Frum is talking about the “Following” timeline, not the “For You” algorithmic timeline. “Following” is the timeline that dates back to Twitter’s very inception: you pick accounts to follow, then you see the tweets those accounts post.

Twitter is no longer able to do that. Here’s a speculative thread explaining what might be going on — sounds like a very solid guess to me. In short: after cutting back on servers and entire data centers, Twitter can no longer keep up with its own content.

I remarked over a week ago that I was no longer seeing mentions or replies directed at my Twitter account. For a day or two I was seeing a handful of them, but now they’re gone. At this writing I see a grand total of one mention for my account going back to January 5. My Twitter mentions are nearly completely useless. For well over a decade, Twitter mentions have been my primary way of interacting with the Daring Fireball audience. Obviously that’s no longer possible. So be it. All the good action is over on Mastodon now, anyway. I’m more active there now, and just like I used to at Twitter, I read all my mentions there. I’ve updated my Contact page accordingly.

Monday, 23 January 2023