Twitter’s livestream event with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis crashed and was delayed Wednesday as hundreds of thousands of users logged on to hear DeSantis announce his bid for the White House.
Audio from the livestream event — which was held at Twitter Spaces and hosted by owner Elon Musk and tech entrepreneur David Sacks — cut in and out in the first few minutes after kick-off.
“We have so many people here that we’re kind of melting the servers,” Sacks said at one point.
More than 500,000 Twitter users attended the event, which ultimately ended and then restarted, delaying DeSantis’ announcement by nearly half an hour. When the event was relaunched using Sacks’ account, only about 250,000 users ultimately tuned in.
Twitter has faced a series of outages and technical issues since Musk took over the platform late last year. Shortly after taking over the company, Musk laid off a large number of technical and other staff and reduced Twitter’s server capacity in an effort to reduce costs.
In recent months, Twitter has suffered several service outages that affected the ability of thousands of users to access the site, view photos and read tweets on their timelines. Users have also previously reported issues with the app’s two-factor authentication tool, seeing replies listed above a tweet instead of below it, and seeing old tweets appear repeatedly in their feed or mentions.
Musk and Sacks acknowledged Wednesday that the limited capacity of Twitter’s servers played into the problems it faced getting the DeSantis event off the ground. “I think you broke the internet there,” Sacks said when the event was relaunched.
The pair added that Musk’s following of more than 140 million users may have also contributed to the problem. “I think it crashed because when you multiply half a million people in a room with an account with over 100 million followers, which is Elon’s account, I think it just creates a level of scalability that was unprecedented, Sacks said.
Trying to spin the launch issue in a positive direction, Sacks said, “You know you’re breaking new ground when there are bugs and scaling issues.”
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Twitter’s Spaces product wasn’t necessarily built to host events with hundreds of thousands of listeners. Most other rooms have – at most – several hundred listeners at a time. Spaces was described as a “prototype” and “janky” tool by a former Twitter employee familiar with its development.
“Spaces was pretty much a prototype, not a finished product,” the former employee told CNN. “It’s a beta test that never ended.”
They added that Spaces relies on a mix of Twitter’s technical infrastructure and Amazon Web Services servers, “things that aren’t meant to handle Twitter-scale traffic.”
Twitter bought video streaming platform Periscope in 2015. The former employee said Twitter Spaces had been built on Periscope’s existing infrastructure and didn’t integrate properly with Twitter — which likely contributed to Wednesday’s technical issues.
After the restart, the event ran for close to an hour. Sacks acknowledged the mistake again at the end, saying, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and we finished strong.”
—CNN’s Kit Maher contributed to this report.