Twitter’s Lost Weekend (“Something Went Wrong”)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

We had a lively weekend on the Twitter, driven by the decisions and actions of the world’s richest human as measured in dollars, Elon Musk, squillionaire; necessarily so, since Musk is the platform’s sole owner, and committed to a “hands-on” management style. Since Musk’s decision-making process is completely opaque, I am left in the pleasant position of being entirely free to speculate on the causes of the error-strewn debacle episode, which I shall shortly do. First, however, I will present an apologia for the platform, explaining why it is important and interesting. Then I’ll give a chronology of the weekend’s events, followed by competing theories on why what happened happened. Then I’ll look at the business implications of the weekend’s excitement, and conclude.

Why Twitter Is an Important and Interesting Platform

I realize there are some Twitter h8ers round and about, so let me explain I use the platform in my workflow, since that directly benefits not only me personally, but you, dear reader, as well:

As a sidebar, let me confess at the outset that I am a dedicated Twitter user. I curate what I read very carefully, and reject Twitter’s frequent offers to let their algorithm take over my feed[1]. I inhabit various quiet neighborhoods that are important to me; photography, among other things. Twitter also makes finding Antidotes for Links a breeze, much easier than it was, pre-Twitter. Further, there is no better way to follow breaking news (especially with a properly curated feed). I could never have followed the twists and turns of the Covid epic without Twitter, and that very much includes the science. (It’s not easy to make a complex technical argument in a series of tweets, but some have mastered the form; not as well as a blog can, but still not badly.) In short, Twitter does a lot to make my real life, and especially my work life, more productive (and more pleasurable, because I discover things I never would have discovered otherwise). And all for free! Not a bad deal, the sort of deal a decent public utility should offer. End sidebar.

Here is the essential fact about Twitter: Twitter is a universal address space[1]. At least until this weekend, Twitter was a social graph where every user — not merely logged-in account, but user — is one degree of separation away from every other user. If I want to go find some idiotic eugenicist statement from Rochelle Walensky, I can do so with a search, logged in or not. (If I want to call Walensky a eugenicist, I must log in, but that seems only fair, and I can still do it.) Further, through embeds, Twitter’s graph extends outside the platform, which is why you see Tweets quoted everywhere. Twitter’s universal, open address space is in great contrast to the “walled gardens” of other platforms, especially The Zuckerberg™’s evil and decaying Facebook.

Many valuable use cases flow from Twitter’s universal address space. Twitter is ideal for public service announcements like emergency services and information about the weather. Twitter is ideal for breaking news, as users spontaneously coalesce around threads following the event. Twitter is ideal for public collaboration across geographic and institutional barriers; I am 100% convinced that the aerosol scientists would not have been able to take it the droplet dogmatists and win the day on the science without Twitter; the same goes for mask users and the Covid-conscious[2].

Of course, there’s are downsides to Twitter’s universal address space as well; in the same way that I can get at Rochelle Walensky, bots and dark triad personalities (10% of the population) can get at me (though none have, so far as I can tell). Worse, Twitter can be swept by moral panics and dogpiling. Even worse, committed partisans, ideologues, and activists may be confronted by people who disagree with them. Even worse, Twitter can be source of intelligence, training data for AIs, and, for the Censorship Industrial Complex, a venue for covert manipulation and deceit.

With that background, let’s turn to the events of the weekend.

How Twitter Blew Up Over the Weekend: A Chronology

By accident or design, our story begins on June 30, the Friday before Fourth of July weekend, and ends, or at least stabilizes, on the third day of the four-day long weekend. The sequence is best understood through a timeline of Musk’s tweets (since almost all the reporting simply repeats them). Here they are:

1) 7:12 AM, Jun 30, 2023:

Notice that a login wall cripples the notion of Twitter as a universal address space; at the very least, as readers have noticed, it wrecks embed functionality.

2) 9:02 AM, Jun 30, 2023:

Musk is vague here about who the “pillagers” actually are[3].

3) 8:45 PM, Jun 30, 2023:

In case readers can’t click through past the ellipses, Musk’s tweet ends: “It is rather galling to have to bring large numbers of servers online on an emergency basis just to facilitate some AI startup’s outrageous valuation” (or very existence –lambert). Hence, the rate limits, to control the scraping, and save on server expense. Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, disagrees::

[Roth] says it’s not the first time the site’s been broken by someone ‘bumbling around in the rate limiter.’ It just doesn’t pass the sniff test that scraping all of a sudden created such dramatic performance problems that Twitter had no choice but to put everything behind a login.[4]

4) 1:01 PM, Jul 1, 2023:

5) 2:29 PM, Jul 1, 2023:

As a sidebar, I got a boatload of “Something went wrong,” “Rate limit exceeded,” and plenty of other weird error messages and odd behaviors over the weekend, and did a lot of fiddling with my VPN, my system clock (as readers know, because I forgot to reset it), had to re-authenticate my (favorite of several) account(s), and just generally acted like an ant pushing a crumb around a hole until it falls in. Ultimately, things got back to normal. I am a tiny, tiny account, and all I can say about rate limits is that I read tweets for Links and Water Cooler like a baleen whale sucks down krill, and they haven’t affected my workflow at all[5].

Needless to say, the media — who still use Twitter, no matter how loudly they whinge — was not happy, and shared their unhappiness:

As did the users who could still log into the platform:

Why Twitter Blew Up Over the Weekend: Competing Theories

We know what Musk said, but is it true? We can’t be sure, since Twitter is completely opaque. Assume Musk isn’t lying. Who’s doing the scraping and manipulating?

One possibility is AI; Reddit has the same objection to AI’s “pillage.” From the Wall Street Journal:

Social-media platforms can be a rich trove for the large language models that power AI chatbots because they contain enormous volumes of the types of verbal exchanges those systems are trying to learn. Other social-media platforms also have instituted new policies to deal with the rise of data-hungry AI companies.

Reddit has been facing blowback over its decision to start charging some third-party developers to obtain its data.

“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” Steve Huffman, Reddit’s chief executive, said last month in a post on the platform.

A second possibility is the spooks, as this video vividly proposes:

A third possibility is AI and the spooks:

Some people asked me to share what I just shared in a space about the rate limits. I don’t work for Twitter but, I do architect IT cloud solutions as my day job.

“Data scraping” is a big deal. This is where automated systems load the website or app and pull your tweets/data. It’s a huge security issue. Automated systems are pulling every tweet/word/user account information to store in an unknown database somewhere else.

This could be state actors like China, the US Government, Australia, or other bad political actors like PAC’s that are trying to gain access to everyone’s information to analyze and use for nefarious things. Manipulating what is said on the site can be done at scale with data scrapping.

It could also be used to figure out the identity of Anons or to punish people in their country for what they tweet. Looking at you #Australia and #Canada and #UnitedKingdom [three of the Five Eyes]


The temporary measures of limiting tweets is to protect users just as much as it is to protect the entire Twitter network from going down. They are currently scrambling to get ahead of this and tune their network security to block it from happening again.

It’s also important to note that twitter has 500,000+ servers. That’s not free. In cloud data centers, the companies that use them have to pay for what is called “ingress and egress” of data going “in and out” of the servers. A data scrapping event that is large enough for them to start limiting means that it was a MASSIVE event that could be considered an attack on the site. It would also put massive load on their servers and cost them so much money it could threaten the site’s financial ability to keep running. It could be on purpose to put twitter out of business from cost alone.

And a fourth possibility is businesses. Charged for the API, they decided to scrape:

It seems very likely that killing free access to the Twitter API led to a big increase in scraping, since countless businesses, organizations, and individuals used it for their projects. It’s also plausible that these issues are entirely unrelated.

Now let’s assume Musk is lying. Why did Elon rate limit the site?

One possibility is that Google was unhappy Elon didn’t pay his bills:

Twitter has resumed paying its Google Cloud contract, according to Bloomberg. If you missed the initial news of the impending showdown, Platformer reported on June 10th that Twitter had been refusing to pay Google for its cloud services ahead of their contract’s June 30th renewal date. The possibility of losing access to Google’s infrastructure led to a frantic rush at Twitter to migrate as many of its services off of Google’s servers. However, that effort was reportedly “running behind schedule,” opening the door for some of the company’s in-house tools to go offline come the end of the month.

(This is plausible, since Musk has stiffed other vendors.)

A second possibility is to built Twitter’s base of paid subscribers:

Some users believe the view limitation move is an attempt to encourage Twitter Blue subscriptions – where users can view 10,000 tweets daily.

A third possibility is a technical own goal:

But on Mastodon this morning, web developer Sheldon Chang noticed another source of unusual traffic: a bug in Twitter’s web app that is constantly sending requests to Twitter in an infinite loop: “Twitter is firing off about 10 requests a second to itself to try and fetch content that never arrives because Elon’s latest genius innovation is to block people from being able to read Twitter without logging in.”

(I confess to some pleasure in the idea that Musk broke Twitter by breaking its universal address space.)

A fourth possibility is another technical own goal: a back-end debacle:

This is weird to say out loud, but I actually am kinda an expert in rate limiting, so I’m gonna explain some stuff.

I don’t know what happened at Twitter today, but I don’t think Elon woke up and decided to shut it all down – my bet is some ‘bottom up’ problem (but not necessarily the DDOSd yourself problem everyone is tweeting about – that could be an effect of getting limited, not the cause)…

At the simplest level, a rate limiter is a program that says “This computer can only do x requests per second” and stops all the others with “429 too many requests”.

Twitter has a really good [rate limiter] because they had a really exceptional infra team until a year ago.


My hypothesis – Twitter lost a big part of a critical back end system – maybe they stopped paying their GCP bill, maybe they lost a critical cache and everything was reading other data, I truly do not know.

At this point, their probably very good adaptive rate limiter said ‘ohshit’ and brought the number of requests WAY WAY down throughout the system.


A final possibility is election interference:

Lauren Jauregui is sharing her opinion after Elon Musk set viewing limits on Twitter. She continued, “This place was one of our most effective organizing tools during 2020 and is where a lot of discourse and accountability happens. Please understand nothing these billionaires do is ever a coincidence.”

“Slowly but surely is the game, so we are apathetic instead of paying attention. When everything feels random and confusing, just know it is anything but. Just connect the dots,” she ended.

Implications of the Weekend’s Events for the Twitter Platform

Always remembering that Twitter is a squillionaire’s play-toy, there are some odd things going on from a business perspective.

First, does Musk believe that crashing traffic is the way to generate advertising revenue?

Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz found that Google now has about 52 percent fewer Twitter URLs in its index than it did on Friday. It’s still showing recent tweets in the Search carousel, but normal indexing seems to be broken at the moment. ‘Not that a site command is the best measure, but… Twitter is down [around] 162 million indexed pages so far since this change,” Schwartz tweeted [ha].

Second, why is Twitter’s new CEO maintaining radio silence?

Will the advertisers be happy about paying for advertisements on a platform where its controlling shareholder publicly declares a desire for users to spend less time on the platform? Questionable.

It still remains unclear to what extent the new CEO was involved in this change. Yaccarino has neither publicly addressed it nor responded to the change on her Twitter account.

Third, will other platform owners be emboldened to take their own sites down?

[Musk’s] influence on other social media moguls has been undeniable.

These CEOs have been taking notes and mimicking parts of his strategy, from cost-cutting to paid verification.

Beginning in November, Musk laid off more than half of Twitter’s workforce, citing a need to cut costs and focus on rapid change. Reddit announced this month that it would lay off about 5% of its workforce.

Reddit isn’t alone in following Musk’s lead. Other apps that are more or less rivals of Twitter have experimented with actions that Musk has taken at the company, suggesting that the mercurial billionaire, despite being a new entrant in the social media industry, is already making a mark.

Fourth, what about Twitter’s competitors? In the last Twitter debacle, Mastodon was supposed to benefit. That fizzled. This time, it’s Jack Dorsey’s Blue Sky. From New York Magazine:

Whatever the real underlying reason for the throttling, the restrictions have prompted yet another wave of people tweeting that they’re leaving the site, as well as the trending of names of various Twitter alternatives. One, the vintage-Twitteresque platform Bluesky, said Saturday that it was temporarily suspending new sign-ups amid “record-high traffic” following Musk’s rate-limit announcement.

Ho hum. What New York Magazine forgets to mention is that “signing up” for Blue Sky doesn’t get you access to the platform; it gets you the promise of an invite code so you can set up an account and get access at some future date. So if Blue Sky has to suspend a system that simple, they’re not ready for prime time.


I leave you with this nugget of information. As readers know, I really like Twitter’s art bots (and deplore Musk’s decision not to carve out an exception for them in his API rate structure). Anyhow, I was poking around some tweets on Van Gogh, and got this screen:

Musk seems to have made Twitter into a platform that can accept payments, which could be, as we say, a gamechanger[6] (and could also break PayPal’s monopoly, which would make we NCers very happy). Tips is not currently available on the web, but I should have seen it on my iPad. I’ll have to look into it!


[1] Twitter’s universal address space is in great contrast to Mastodon’s federated address space, which (IMNSHO) is siloed by definition. How do you “search Mastodon”? You don’t, because there is no single Mastodon entity.

[2] Not relevant to Twitter’s architecture, but nevertheless to be thrown into the “Good Things Twitter Has Enabled” bucket, we have The Twitter Files (see NC here and here), which showed the unholy merger of key Democrat factions, spooks, the press, and content moderators into a gelatinous mass of election thieves.

[3] Trying to formulate a joke about “it takes a pillage,” referring to the grandiose theft (“original accumulation”) of data for training sets by AI firms, but time presses…

[4] The rest of Roth’s comment is odd, but tangential, so I’m putting it in a note:

“Scraping was the open secret of Twitter data access. We knew about it. It was fine.”

It was? Why? The servers had to be paid for. Twitter has been unprofitable for years. Was it taking one for Silicon Valley’s AI team? Or the spooks? More:

There’s some legitimacy to Twitter and Reddit being upset with AI companies for slurping up social data gratis in order to train commercially lucrative models,” Roth added. “But they should never forget that it’s not *their* data — its ours. A solution to parasitic AI needs to be user-centric, not profit-centric.”

A pious statement, given that nobody’s doing it! Whose is “ours”?

[5] It’s not all that clear what the rate limit metric actually means:

Since Musk delivered this news in a tweet (as is tradition, at this point), it’s fairly unclear as to what actually constitutes a ‘view’ or a ‘post’ – interestingly, Musk didn’t use the word ‘tweet’ at all in his announcement.

Replies appear to count towards the limit, but ads might not; and as for what ‘viewing’ a post means, as far as we can tell you could scroll past it at lightspeed and Twitter will still consider it viewed. Hit your limit, and you’ll get either empty space or a message that reads ‘rate limit exceeded’.

From my experience, simply scrolling past doesn’t count toward the limit.

[6] This got lost in all the noise:

Mush just enabled blog posts on Twitter (although with some content limits). Interesting!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. albrt

    I am not clear on how the story allegedly “ends, or at least stabilizes” today. As a non-subscriber I am still locked out. Is the message that Twitter is now a permanent walled garden?

    I won’t be signing up for Twitter to find out the answer, so I hope someone here can enlighten me.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is the message that Twitter is now a permanent walled garden?

      We’re about to find out! (OTOH, with Facebook, you can’t even embed.)

      The whole enterprise should really be a public utility, a service on the level of the Post Office or as apolitical (I assume) as the Social Security system, and if we had a political system that recognized “public” as a concept, that might happen.

      1. Old Jake

        I can click on the Tweets and read them on the web site, but I don’t see them as embeds in this blog. I do have an account but typically remain logged out, and Firefox deletes cookies whem I exit so I’m certainly logged out. In a lot of ways Twitter is still an enigma to me.

        But, Lambert, your apologia has definitely upgraded my understanding of, and appreciation for, Twitter’s paradigm.

        1. Old Jake

          Oops, tried again, discovered I was logged in, figured out how to log out, and now “something went wrong.”

          1. lambert strether

            I think you just have to ride it out. That’s what I did. Also, clear caches.

      2. Wæsfjord

        Facebook. Gosh, there’s a blast from the past. It’s good that my dear old aunts have a cat photo swapping platform. Will it die with them?

  2. flora

    Did something happen on twitter? / ;)

    Seeing a twt that looks intesting sends me looking on other sites for a repost that I can read. Usually works for the important stuff. No luck with cute kitty pictures, though.

  3. Rick

    Something I haven’t heard mentioned: the login wall went up a couple of years ago. There’s a Firefox plugin to disable it (not available on Chrome based browsers because Google claimed it violated Twitter TOS).

    In late January this year the login wall was removed. When it came back a few days ago, the implementation is different because the plugin no longer works.

    So one possibility is just broken code for the login wall. As a long time software developer, it’s well known that monkeying with large systems is fraught with unexpected effects and goes by the technical germ ‘shaking the jello’.

    I know this because I prefer to read Twitter not logged in as a general practice.

    1. hunkerdown

      The old login wall was a modal popup, and the backend and the page still motored along underneath the popup. User code injected into the page could detect and remove that popup readily.

      Now, the backend is refusing to answer API requests from anonymous users, which means there is no tweet data to feed the scroll or embeds. For anonymous users, at least some pages are refusing to start up fully and are instead redirecting the browser to the login flow page, leaving nothing to move out of the way.

  4. dj knuckles

    Elon the “engineer.” He should have taken the Billion to get out of what was already an awful deal while that Telsa stock was declining. The irony of Mr. Free speech being controlled by one of his largest automotive clients… China is enough of a red flag. The twitter competitors are all growing due to the engineer not being able to controll the “bugs.” The list goes on and on. I think the real issue is he got rid of many talented people whose job was to handle these types of things on a daily basis. He’s turned twitter into a non use-able platform in under a year. I once found quick news there, now I cant find anything besides what he wants me to see. The algorithm is broken & the only option now is to move on.

    What is Marissa Mayer up to these days? She’d be perfect for this role, its essentially her buying TUMBLR and killing it for $4B.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think this comment is not especially fact-based. Mastodon is still not large; Blue Sky, as I show, is not competitive at all. What else is there? Substack? Does Facebook really think they can get back in = game?

      > He’s turned twitter into a non use-able platform in under a year. I once found quick news there, now I cant find anything besides what he wants me to see. The algorithm is broken

      Then your list of follows is not properly curated. All Social Media algos are broken, by definition, and without exception. (That’s the real hurdle curation. People don’t think it’s needed. But it is.)

      1. flora

        Gettr and Locals are pretty good. Greenwald moved to Locals. I think Locals requires a login. Ed Dowd is on Gettr. Tulsi has an account on Gettr. Gettr doesn’t require a login. You can search a name + either platform, and if the person has an account on the platform you’ll get that url.

        Not perfect. Not as good as twitter when I could read twitter. It’ll do for now.

  5. Jeremy Grimm

    I tried looking at a few of the links to twitter in your post:
    “Something went wrong. Try reloading.”

    I guess that means twitter is still broken? I only look at tweets, and only tweets from NakedCapitalism pages. I have never logged in to twitter and have no account.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Something went wrong

      Fortunately, the tweets display on the site. However, Musk has broken the embeds, so you can’t view the Tweet on Twitter unless you are logged in (which is dumb, since Twitter is no longer a universal address space. We’ll see if that gets fixed).

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks. I will wait and see and otherwise trust to the text you usually prepend before your twitter links.

  6. ChrisRUEcon

    Thanks again for the yeoman’s service, Lambert! I have been largely out of the #TwitterVerse as I focus on #IRL stuff … but a lot of this seems plausible in one way or another. When one reduces technical infrastructure workforce by upwards of 50% (educated guess based on previous material read), it’s insane to expect that even in the most automated environments, the code will continue to just “run itself”. As a fellow Cloud-IT-er, I can tell you that there’s an immense amount of tribal operational-data/procedure that doesn’t make it into play/run-books and the like. When systems hiccup, the difference between having a person who’s seen a like hiccup before, and having people who haven’t scrambling for answers is a weekend of woe.

  7. skk

    I only turned on Twitter a year ago, I’m signed up, but not paying $8/ mth. Over time, I’m become an avid reader. The algorithm feeds me the ‘ car crashes’ – like ITV using a man to illustrate how mums are affected by the thames water debacle, then the guys posts a pic of him breastfeeding a baby, then there is the Scotland SNP car crash, then the ‘pay a charity 2 million for you, Peter hoetek to debate RFK ‘.

    There’s also Glen Greenwald and financial guys like hedgeye.

    It’s interesting. Oddly I didn’t get rate limited over the weekend. I’d have thought I easily read 600 tweets / day.

    I also screenscape, have done for almost 30 years.

    I buy musk s argument… yet the thing is twitter has an API, used to be free until recently, I used it 10 years ago to explore the ins and outs of usefully consuming the hyped firehose of text data

    Are the Bad actors being cheapskate and don’t want to pay for the programmatic access – API ? I can’t imagine the NSA being short of a bob or two.

    1. jobs

      I was wondering the same thing. Why don’t the LLM / TLA people just pay for non-throttled API keys?

  8. Mike

    Powerful men far less wealthy than Musk have poured tens of millions into newspapers and other platforms, knowing they would never see a direct return. Musk should know this; Tesla and SpaceX will never become profitable from earned revenue. What good is it for him to run Twitter so close to the bone?

    1. hunkerdown

      In doing so, those wealthy men were also creating the professional-managerial class; Musk seems more interested in cutting them down to size.

    2. j


      Sorry, but I feel compelled to correct you here.
      (I’m pretty sure this is a case of Randall Monroe’s
      “But someone’s *wrong* on the internet”.)

      Tesla has turned a profit for the last four years,
      feel free to look up the SEC filings to check my
      figures for earning before income and taxes (EBIT):

      2019: 20 million
      2020: 1,902 million
      2021: 6,714 million
      2022: 13,910 million


      1. AG

        sry if I am outdated but wasn´t Tesla´s profit in fact punishment paid to Tesla by manufacturers of non-electric vehicles who have to pay a certain amount for every non-electric car sold in the state of California? Thus Tesla made money because they were not successful enough (500,000 cars p.a. are nothing in this market, VW has sold 8 mio.)
        I know it defenitely was the case. I am just not sure if it still is. Apart from the fact that electric ones dont solve nothin of the problems we have.

        p.s. fancy SpaceX PR is only stand-in for the real beef, which is contracts with arms-manufacturers and the MoD which of course doesn´t go well with Musk´s oh so pseudo anti-establishment rhetoric.

        1. j


          They probably would not have had an annual profit in 2019
          without the sale of regulatory credits.

          In 2022, Tesla reported 1,776 million in sales of regulatory
          credits, out of revenue of 81,462 million dollars. So it’s not
          nothing, but they would have had a profit of over $12 billion
          dollars without them. I thought most of their credits sales
          these days are in Europe, where some manufacturers are
          having difficulty meeting their emission limits, not California.
          I didn’t look up where the regulatory credit sales are from,
          so I could be mistaken on that.

          And yes, the big auto companies, like Toyota and the VW
          group still sell quite a few more cars than Tesla does. Tesla
          is running about 500,000 vehicles per quarter now, so only
          about one fourth of the vehicles that VW/Audi/Porsche/Lambo/
          Seat/Skoda/Cupra/Bentley combined make. Weirdly, the
          Model Y was the best selling model of vehicle worldwide the
          first quarter of this year, pipping the Toyota Corolla in terms
          of units sold.

          Even more weirdly to me, when looking over Tesla’s 2022
          10k for the numbers in this post, their financials remind me
          a bit of DEC right before Compaq bought and destroyed
          them. (In that they have a profitable on-going business,
          not much debt, and a big pile of cash.) Some PE firm could
          probably work out a LBO for $150 billion or so without putting
          any of their own money in the pot, then walk away with some
          small billions of dollars after they stripped and destroyed the
          company. The market cap is over 800 billion now (the
          P:E ratio is stupid high), but it could be a risk, if the share
          price falls significantly.


      2. square coats

        I am guessing that “earned” was the very operative word in Mike’s second-to-last sentence.

  9. Sub-Boreal

    Thanks for this forensic investigation. I have no additional evidence to help narrow the range of possible explanations, but IRL Hanlon’s Razor has served me pretty well.

    As a longtime Twitter lurker, I’m disappointed at being locked out, but OTOH I may have recovered ~ 1 hr per day for potentially more useful activities! But as Lambert and others have noted, there were always serendipitous interesting things turning up that wouldn’t have been encountered otherwise.

  10. ChrisPacific

    The universal address space has made it the platform of choice for update announcements in sectors like gaming. The announcement tweets are federated to the platform of your choice (usually a Discord space) as embeds and you get an automatic news feed with thumbnails and summaries, and helpful links back to the tweet if you want to know more. Practically every Discord server I’ve been in has an ‘official news’ channel that works this way.

    Every single one of them broke over the weekend.

    Personally I find the free API discontinuation and technical own goal theories most plausible as they give an explanation for why now in particular, but I guess we’ll find out more.

  11. digi_owl

    Do wonder if the plan is to allow “checkmarks” to opt into making their tweets publicly accessible as part of the premium fee. Thus an entity that wants to use Twitter as their broadcast notification service can still do so, while the rest can scream into the void.

    Funny how what started as a SMS forwarding service evolved into this over a few decades of easy VC money.

  12. SG

    My first observation: Contrary to a very common sentiment on the Intertubez, Twitter is not the “new public square”. By definition, a forum that is privately owned (particularly by one rather eccentric and capricious person) isn’t a public anything. Twitter is Elon’s private plaything. Viewing it as anything else is a recipe for tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. There actually used to be a “public square” on the Internet. It was called Usenet. It was fully distributed, uncensored, and owned by nobody in particular (although the thousands of individual servers that carried and propagated it were obviously owned by someone). Like all public goods in this age of predatory, end-stage capitalism, it was destroyed (mostly by Google). Sic transit gloria mundi.

    Second: I don’t twit. I’ve never had a Twitter account (or Faceborg, or IG, or Google). I don’t even use Google for search. The only time I read twits is when Lambert posts one or someone sends me a link. Elon has now saved me the time and trouble of following those links, for which I am profoundly grateful. Perhaps even grateful enough to buy a Tesla someday.

    Third: My general opinion of Twitter is that if your deepest and most profound thoughts can be expressed in 280 characters or less, you should probably do yourself and the world a favor by keeping them to yourself. After all, it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to twit and remove all doubt.

    1. Donald

      I can’t link, of course, but if you knew who to follow there was some truly brilliant material on Twitter. Remi Brulin, for instance, had a very long series of tweets on his front page or whatever you call it about an Israeli false flag terrorist network in Lebanon in the late 70’s to early 80’s— the NYT had a long piece about it, but it was written in a deliberately deceptive manner. Brulin’s Twitter account linked to a longer articke he wrote at Mondoweiss. Blogs are always better, but again, you could find a fair amount of interesting material on Twitter without needing an account.

    2. notabanker

      Amen. Wishing it to be does not make it so. Twitter is not and never will be a public utility, it is a corporate owned for profit platform that is heavily censored by the government. All the whinging in the world isn’t going to change that.

  13. britzklieg

    and yet, not being able to see all those tweets makes life so much better! I’ve no intention of re-upping.

    alas for participation, it won’t help me at deep diving into links…

    c’est la guerre

  14. none

    The free twitter API has been shut down for years, but they have long had a product called the “firehose feed” which they charge big bucks for, like $40,000 per month or something like that, as of some years ago. Basically it is all the tweets and I mean all. It is a sure bet that it has customers including big AI and spooks, plus the marketing (sentiment analysis) crap that has been going on for years. Unless you’re a two bit operator it’s really better to pay than scrape, and Reddit probably has a similar product as well. Using a zillion API queries to get the zillion tweets or posts is dumb. What you really want is a continuous feed going into your AI stuff. That is much easier to handle at both ends, and you can bet that Twitter and Reddit are willing to take your money for it. Lots of money. Too much for plebes but the big operators are using it for sure.

  15. Louiedog14

    Never done any of the social media platforms, but what you’re describing sounds like what I’ve seen happen to countless meat space neighborhoods. Whether it’s Harvard Square, the French Quarter, The Mission etc., a neighborhood becomes interesting due to the individual contributions of many. But soon it attracts attention and status and that lures the leeches who want to suck out the goodness without putting anything back. Before you know it, you’re left with an overpriced husk with nothing left to offer but its former reputation.

    Takes a while to find a new neighborhood. Or you just give up and move to the suburbs.

    I am sorry for your trouble though. It sucks to have a nice rug pulled out from under you.

  16. SG

    It occurs to me that by preventing generative AI companies from scraping Twitter for training data, Musk has prevented Twitter users from poisoning the training datasets for future LLM models en masse. It’s too bad – a Twiutter-based DDOS on future LLM models had the potential to give this latest techno-fad a swift and merciful death.

    1. hunkerdown

      Unfortunately, they would have been poisoned in favor of the One True Narrative which it had originally been aligned to regurgitate. In model collapse, other continuations would have been forgotten. Feature, not bug, from the perspective of the ownership class.

  17. Stephen

    Thanks. This was interesting and I learned some technical details that were totally new to me.

    Lines of enquiry that start from an assumed objective of Elon seeking to make more money either through cost reduction, higher revenue or both seem the most fruitful.

    Even system issues boil down to that if they are an immediate cause because systematically they will result from decisions not to make investments that are unremunerative. Ultimately, he is an entrepreneur not a guy providing a “service” and he needs to make a return on quite a large outlay.

  18. Eclair

    Yeah! Juicy stuff here, Lambert. Lots of visual metaphors: data scraping. Mental pics of ginormous earth moving machines, with tires bigger than a 5 story building, and a scrape blade that levels off hills, rock formations, ant heaps and stray flora, into mixed metaphor piles along the side of the information highway.

    And, Lambert, you as a giant baleen whale sucking down data …. wow!

    So, my mind leapt to an historical conflagration, ’cause fires …. and smoke … are much on my mind. As well as in my lungs. The Great Library of Alexandria. Repository of all the knowledge of the Ancients, until burned down, twice (at least) by Christians and the Muslims, allegedly. Because knowledge is dangerous stuff, especially when it’s the non-approved sort.

  19. CoastalG

    Sorry, but I have to disagree with a couple points here. I was on Twitter when it first started and I’m now on Mastodon as it kicks off. I see a lot of similarities in terms of growing pains.

    First, you can search Mastodon. I do it all the time. It is true that the content side is weak at this point, limited to hashtags, but they’re working on it and making good progress. Just like Twitter long ago. But the search for people and tags is universal now, regardless of what server you’ve signed up for.

    Second, as of yesterday, Eugen Rochko (godfather of Mastodon) reported close to 3000 new users being added PER HOUR. That’s not what I call a fizzle. Sure, not all of them will stay, but enough will to make the platform more viable. And BlueSky’s demand for ownership of your posts is going to bite eventually, as users realize its just a harvest tool for AI.

    And last and most important, Mastodon’s federated nature is a plus not a negative. It makes it independent and impervious to corporate takeover. Small, individual admins cannot be rounded up and sold, the way Twitter was. Plus, it’s a gateway to the Fediverse, an even larger and more varied online world. One that probably includes Reddit’s replacement as well.

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