New cracks emerge in Elon Musk's Twitter

Roger Stringer Roger Stringer
February 26, 2023
3 min read

Casey Newton for the Platformer:

On Wednesday, Twitter employees had the tech equivalent of a snow day: the company’s Slack instance was down for “routine maintenance,” they were told, and the company was implementing a deployment freeze as a result.

That same day, Jira – a tool Twitter uses to track everything from progress on feature updates to regulatory compliance – also stopped working. With no way to chat and no code to ship, most engineers took the day off.

Jira access was restored on Thursday. But Platformer can now confirm that Slack wasn’t down for “routine maintenance.” “There is no such thing as routine maintenance. That’s bullshit,” a current Slack employee told us.

In this as in so many other things, Twitter hasn’t paid its Slack bill. But that’s not why Slack went down: someone at Twitter manually shut off access, we’re told. Platformer was not able to learn the reason prior to publication, though the move suggests Musk may have turned against the communication app — or at least wants to see if Twitter can run without Slack and the expenses associated with it. (Musk’s Tesla uses a Slack competitor called Mattermost for in-house collaboration, and Microsoft Outlook and Teams for email and meetings.)

On Blind, the anonymous workplace chat app, the disappearance of such critical tools was met with a mixture of disbelief, frustration, and (to a lesser extent) glee.

“We didn't pay our Slack bill,” one employee wrote. “Now everyone is barely working. Penny wise, pound foolish.”

Another worker called the disappearance of Slack the “proverbial final straw.”

“Oddly enough, it's the Slack deactivation that has pushed me to finally start applying to get out,” they wrote.

For Twitter employees, Slack is more than a way to message colleagues: it’s also a store of institutional memory, preserved in documents that workers have had to rely on more and more since Musk purged thousands of employees since taking over.

“After everyone was gone, I had no one to ask questions when stuck,” an employee who stayed on past the first round of layoffs wrote in Blind. “I used to search for the error [messages] on Slack and got help 99 percent of the time.”

Slack remained down at the company on Thursday. While some employees communicated over email, others essentially took a second day off.

Yeah, lack of internal communication is a great way to kill a company, and have to wonder how long before Twitter is just a memory like Google Plus when this is combined with other factors such as continuing service degradation?

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