Ten things on Twitter that are already breaking

Twitter laid off 50% of its employees and 80% of its contractors, and then at least 16% more of its employees quit. At this point, I am massively rooting for Twitter to fail–purely for selfish reasons, as a tech worker who wouldn’t like to see CEOs rewarded for mistreating tech workers.

Last Friday, #RIPTwitter was trending on Twitter, and people seemed to think Twitter would stop working at any moment. I think the more likely timescale is not days, but months–but that’s just what I hear from people who work in that area. The website may not disappear immediately, but we’ll see a deterioration of services, eventually losing something that proves essential. I’m so interested to see what will deliver the killing blow.

Although Twitter seems to be working for now, we can actually see various services breaking in real time by tracking complaints on the r/Twitter subreddit. I did not confirm these issues, and some might only affect a certain subset of users, or may arise from pre-existing issues. But I think there’s a good chance that Twitter 2.0 is to blame. Here’s a top ten list so far.

1. Twitter’s copyright strike system fails

According to Forbes, Twitter has been particularly slow to take down copyright violations. Someone uploaded the entirety of The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift and it remained overnight. And maybe that particular example only got taken down because it went viral.

2. Twitter’s trending topics fill with nonsense

Apparently, Twitter had a team that manually curated trending topics, for example by manually inserting “Why is this trending?” notes under each topic. This team was presumably laid off, and it may not be a coincidence that Twitter’s trending topics look particularly garbage these days.

I took a look myself, and I saw dozens of topics that were just names of athletes or TV show characters, but I had to click to find out what they actually were. There were also several nonsense phrases, such as “HER HAIR”, and separately “THE HAIR”. Apparently people liked Taylor Swift’s hair, and combine that with normal tweets about hair and you have a trending topic.

3. Twitter data download fails

Suppose you want to delete your twitter, and save an archive of your data. Some people are reporting that they can’t download their data. Commenters say this is a violation of the EU’s GDPR law. I’ve also heard that it’s not totally broken, it’s just inordinately slow.

4. Twitter sending NSFW spam

One person reports that they’ve been getting e-mail notifications with tweets from accounts they don’t follow containing pornographic images. They adjusted their e-mail notification settings to only show tweets from users they follow, but this did not resolve the problem.

5. Reply counts don’t match replies

Each tweet has a number showing how many replies it got, but users are reporting that these numbers are incorrect. Either some replies are not being shown, or the count of replies is wrong.

6. Elon Musk dominates feeds

People are complaining that Elon Musk and other conservative trash started dominating their feeds. This points to multiple possible issues. It could be Twitter’s algorithm failing to make good recommendations. It could be compounded by a shift in Twitter’s user base, as ignorant conservatives seem to be the only ones optimistic about the platform right now. Some people are also reporting that Elon Musk still shows up even after blocking him, which is another kind of problem.

7. Twitter’s 2FA locks people out

2FA, or two-factor authentication, refers to the system that texts you a code to let you log in. Last week, there were stories about Twitter turning off 2FA service, which means some people couldn’t get text messages and were locked out of their accounts. On November 15, Twitter claimed that 2FA still works, and that was the last I heard about it. But on r/Twitter, people are still reporting difficulties as recently as November 17.

8. Trends for You forced on

One user reported that they turn off Trends for You on mobile app, allowing them to track trends in the US rather than from their home country. Suddenly these were turned back on, and could not be turned off.

9. Contact discoverability can’t be turned off

When people join Twitter, it gives you the option to lookup your e-mail and phone contacts to find friends to follow. One user had this turned off so that acquaintances would not be able to find their Twitter pseudonym. An acquaintance found them anyway, leading to speculation that the on/off switch for contact discoverability is broken now.

You know, I was concerned about data breaches at Twitter, but I had imagined some black hat stealing and selling databases–and presumably we would never hear about it because whoever’s monitoring for breaches got laid off.  I hadn’t imagined this sort of invasion on such a personal level.

10. Even people paying Twitter money get bad service

This last item I didn’t hear from Reddit, but comes from an anonymous head of a marketing team. They say that 2FA and SSO (another authentication method) stopped working. Old advertisement campaigns suddenly got turned on again and can’t be turned off.  Performance was way down. Campaign reporting is inconsistent between the API and UI.  At this rate, Twitter will collapse financially if it doesn’t collapse some other way first.

And that’s just so far. What will happen in the coming weeks and months?


  1. says

    @1: I see what you did there!

    6. Elon Musk dominates feeds

    That’s not a thing that’s “breaking,” that’s a feature. Welcome to Twitter 2.0, with LOTS of extra Twit.

  2. says

    Apparently, there are few/no furries working for Twitter any more. Given the insanely disproportionate presence of furries in all tech ecosystems, this is a bit of a warning sign.

  3. another stewart says

    Twitter used to be useful for breaking news. But they’ve now removed the ability to sort tweets for a keyword or hashtag by the most recent, so it’s no good for that any more. (Beforehand, you used to have old news – people retweeting stuff – mixed in with the new news; now any new news is buried way down the feed. So Twitter has lost what little ability it had to serve me advertisements.)

    As Twitter’s importance was based on its dissemination of news this seems like more foot-shooting. (Perhaps the change was intended to remove Twitter as a tool to organise against repressive government.)

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