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Twitter prioritises stability after outage days before Super Bowl

Elon Musk says new feature development and cost-cutting measures must be put on hold.

9 February 2023 Steve McCaskill
Elon Musk Twitter

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  • Many users were unable to post, send messages or follow accounts
  • Super Bowl is Twitter’s busiest day of the year
  • Some advertisers have returned ahead of Super Bowl LVII

Twitter chief executive Elon Musk has told staff to suspend feature development and focus on stability ahead of the Super Bowl after an outage left many users unable to send tweets or perform basic actions on the social network.

Users complained of notifications informing them they had reached the daily limit for new posts or for following other accounts, while others reported ongoing problems with direct messaging.

With the National Football League’s (NFL) championship game, traditionally the busiest day in Twitter’s calendar and a lucrative source of revenue for the company, just days away, any disruption could have significant reputational and commercial consequences.

In an email to staff, seen by Fortune, Musk said: “Please pause for now on new feature development in favour of maximising system stability and robustness, especially with the Super Bowl coming up.”

Musk has also paused the planned migration of data from servers in Sacramento to Atlanta and plans to reduce expenditure on Google Cloud services – both of which form part of widespread cost-cutting measures introduced since his US$44 billion takeover in November.

The Tesla and SpaceX chief executive has also slashed Twitter’s workforce and demanded rapid, major changes to the platform. This has fuelled concerns that Twitter does not have the resources, infrastructure or business functions required to maintain and develop its platform – fears that this recent outage will have done little to assuage.

Meanwhile, the uncertainty has impacted Twitter’s commercial revenues. As many as 500 advertisers have paused spending, while daily revenues on 17th January were said to be 40 per cent lower than on the same day in 2022.

However, several major brands have been tempted back by the Super Bowl, although bookings are anticipated to be down year-on-year. The sporting world has been less concerned, with Twitter having plans for more than 30 content sponsorship deals with publications, media companies and sports properties in early 2023, including with the NFL and this year’s Super Bowl broadcaster Fox.

Musk remains undeterred by the reaction and is pressing ahead with his plans for ‘Twitter 2.0’, which includes a suite of capabilities designed to enhance the user experience and diversify the firm’s revenue streams.

Subscribers to Twitter Blue will now be able to post Tweets up to 4,000 characters in length – up from the standard 280 – paving the way for athletes, sports properties and brands to explore more creative uses of the platform. Twitter Blue is now available in 15 countries.

Twitter has also confirmed that the basic tier for its application programming interface (API), a set of standards that allows other applications to interact with the social network, will cost US$100 a month. It had previously been free.

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