New York — As hundreds of thousands of users came on to hear Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declare his candidature for president on Wednesday, Twitter’s livestream event featuring DeSantis collapsed and was delayed.
The livestream event’s audio cut in and out for the first few minutes after it began. It was presented by tech entrepreneur David Sacks and owner Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces.
At one point, Sacks said, “We’ve got so many people here that we’re kind of melting the servers.”
More than 500,000 Twitter users attended the event, which was eventually cut short and then restarted, delaying DeSantis’ presentation by roughly 30 minutes. Only about 250,000 people tuned in when the event was relaunched using Sacks’ account.
Since Musk took over the network late last year, Twitter has experienced a number of outages and technical concerns. Musk lay off a big number of technical and other employees and lowered Twitter’s server capacity shortly after acquiring the firm in an effort to minimise costs.
Twitter has had repeated service failures in recent months, affecting the ability of thousands of users to access the site, view photographs, and read messages on their timelines. Users have previously experienced troubles with the app’s two-factor authentication process, seeing answers appear above rather than below a tweet, and seeing old tweets appear repeatedly in their feed or mentions.
Musk and Sacks stated on Wednesday that the restricted capacity of Twitter’s infrastructure contributed to the difficulties in getting the DeSantis event started. “I think you broke the internet there,” Sacks stated after relaunching the event.
The pair also suggested that Musk’s 140 million-plus followers may have contributed to the problem. “I think it crashed because when you multiply a half-million people in a room by an account with over 100 million followers, which is Elon’s account, I think that creates just a scalability level that was unprecedented,” Sacks explained.
Sacks attempted to spin the launch issue in a good light, saying, “You know you’re breaking new ground when there’s bugs and scaling issues.”
The Spaces product from Twitter was not designed to organise events with hundreds of thousands of listeners. Most other Spaces only have a few hundred listeners at a time. A former Twitter employee familiar with the project described Spaces as a “prototype” and “janky” tool.
“Spaces was largely a prototype, not a finished product,” the former employee explained to CNN. “It’s a beta test that never ended.”
They also stated that the Spaces technological infrastructure is set up among many services in such a way that it is not “intended to handle Twitter-scale traffic.”
Periscope, a video streaming platform, was bought by Twitter in 2015. According to the former employee, Twitter Spaces were built on Periscope’s current infrastructure and were not properly linked with Twitter, which likely led to Wednesday’s technical issues.
The event lasted about an hour after it was restarted. At the end, Sacks acknowledged the mistake once more, saying, “It’s not how you started, it’s how you finish, and we finished strong.”