Links and photos shared on Twitter stopped loading Monday, amid reports of increasing chaos and decreasing ability to function within the company.
Images stopped displaying on Twitter, while anyone who clicked on a link got an error message that told them, “Your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint.” Thousands of people had reported issues across the platform, according to DownDetector.
An API, or application programming interface, allows multiple separate computer systems to communicate. Twitter’s API, as explained by Wired, “allows third parties to retrieve and analyze public Twitter data, which can then be used to create programmable bots and separate applications that connect to the platform.”
Twitter announced in early February that it would get rid of its free API in favor of a “paid basic tier,” which many said was because the company was running severely short on funds. Many users speculated Monday that Twitter ending the free API had caused its own system to crash. Third-party apps such as TweetDeck were also not working on Monday.
Others said the issue could be because the platform’s internal link shortener was down. Twitter said the issues were temporary but only said they were due to “an internal change that had some unintended consequences.”
But the crashing links are just the cherry on top of a truly horrendous Monday for Twitter owner Elon Musk, after the BBC reported that changes and layoffs he made have rendered the company unable to protect users from trolls, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, and child sexual exploitation.
It was already known that hate speech flourished on Twitter under Musk. The social media research group National Contagion Research Institute found that in the 12 hours after Musk bought Twitter, use of the n-word increased almost 500 percent.
But the BBC, citing academic data and interviews with anonymous Twitter insiders, found that child sexual exploitation was on the rise and not reported to law enforcement at a sufficient rate. It also learned that targeted disinformation campaigns are going “undetected,” and accounts that follow misogynistic and abusive profiles have increased 69 percent.
Musk replied by essentially saying, “Sorry, not sorry.”
But the Tesla CEO has locked himself into a vicious cycle. Advertisers and users have left the platform in droves since he took over, forcing him to try to slash costs wherever possible. This includes firing employees, auctioning off everything in Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, taking money from the Taliban, and apparently just not paying rent.
As a result, as the BBC found, Twitter has neither the funds nor the manpower to moderate content on the platform. Any efforts to do so are thwarted by the boss’s penchant for letting Nazis back online. As a result, more advertisers are turned off Twitter, leaving Musk scrambling all the more to make money.