Twitter’s live streaming event featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was blocked and delayed Wednesday as hundreds of thousands of users logged in to listen to DeSantis. announce your offer for the White House.
Sound from the livestreaming event, which was held on Twitter Spaces and hosted by owner Elon Musk and tech entrepreneur David Sacks, was interrupted within minutes of starting.
“We have so many people here that we are melting down the servers,” Sacks said at one point.
More than 500,000 Twitter users joined the event, which eventually ended and then restarted, delaying DeSantis’s announcement by almost half an hour. When the event was relaunched with Sacks’ account, only around 250,000 users listened.
Twitter has faced a variety of blackouts and technical problems since Musk took over the platform late last year. Shortly after acquiring the company, Musk laid off a large number of technical and other staff and reduced Twitter’s server capacity in an effort to cut costs.
In recent months, Twitter has faced multiple service outages that affected the ability of thousands of users to access the site, view images, 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 admitted Wednesday that the limited capacity of Twitter’s servers played a role in the problems they faced getting the DeSantis event up and running. “I think you broke the internet there,” Sacks said when the event was relaunched.
The pair added that Musk’s tracking of more than 140 million users may also have contributed to the problem. “I think it collapsed because when you multiply half a million people in a room by an account with over 100 million followers, which is Elon’s account, I think that creates an unprecedented level of scalability,” Sacks said.
Trying to change the theme of the release 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 was not necessarily designed to host events with hundreds of thousands of listeners. Most other spaces have, at most, several hundred listeners at a time. A former Twitter employee familiar with its development described Spaces as a “prototype” and “tough” tool.
“Spaces was very 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 combination of Twitter’s technical infrastructure and Amazon Web Services servers, “things that are not intended to handle Twitter-scale traffic.”
Twitter acquired streaming video platform Periscope in 2015. The former employee said Twitter Spaces had been built on top of Periscope’s existing infrastructure and had not integrated properly with Twitter, which likely contributed to Wednesday’s technical issues.
After rebooting, the event lasted for close to an hour. Sacks acknowledged the flaw again at the end, saying, “It’s not how you started, it’s how you finish, and we finished strong.”
–CNN’s Kit Maher contributed to this report.