Commentary: Thinking of breaking up with Twitter? Here’s the right way to do it

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Aside from the site going dark, there are also risks user data could be breached in a cyberattack while the usual defences are down. Twitter was exposed in a massive cyberattack in August this year. A hacker was able to extract the personal details, including phone numbers and email addresses, of 5.4 million users.

One would be forgiven for thinking that such scenarios are impossible. However, common lore in the technology community is that the Internet is held together by chewing gum and duct tape.

The apps, platforms and systems we interact with every day, particularly those with audiences in the millions or billions, may give the impression of being highly sophisticated. But the truth is we’re often riding on the edge of chaos.

Building and maintaining large-scale social software is like building a boat, on the open water, while being attacked by sharks. Keeping such software systems afloat requires designing teams that can work together to bail enough water out, while others reinforce the hull, and some look out for incoming threats.

To stretch the boat metaphor, Musk has just fired the software developers who knew where the nails and hammers were kept, the team tasked with deploying the shark bait, and the lookouts on the masts.

Can his already stretched and imperilled workforce plug the holes fast enough to keep the ship from sinking?

We’re likely to find out in the coming weeks. If Twitter does manage to stay afloat, the credit more than likely goes to many of the now ex-staff for building a robust system that a skeleton crew can maintain.

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