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What just happened? Elon Musk continued his rampage through Twitter yesterday by firing one of the company's engineers who made the mistake of arguing with his boss publicly. The now former employee, who spent six years working on Twitter for Android, called out a statement from Musk for being wrong. Following a back-and-forth between the two over the course of several hours, Musk posted a now-deleted tweet that read, "He's fired."
The incident began on Sunday when Musk tweeted an apology for Twitter being super slow in many countries. The CEO blamed this on the app performing over 1,000 "poorly batched" remote procedure calls (RPCs) to load a home timeline.
One of the replies to Musk's tweet came from Eric Frohnhoefer, a Twitter employee working on the Android version of the app. "I have spent ~6yrs working on Twitter for Android and can say this is wrong," he wrote.
I have spent ~6yrs working on Twitter for Android and can say this is wrong. https://t.co/sh30ZxpD0N--- Eric Frohnhoefer @ 🏡 (@EricFrohnhoefer) November 13, 2022
Frohnhoefer said that Twitter doesn't make any RPCs, adding that it makes around 20 background requests when the app starts up instead. Musk responded with, "The fact that you don't realize that there are up to 1200 'microservices' being called when someone uses the Twitter app is not great."
Seemingly not wanting to back down, Frohnhoefer said the number to generate the home timeline is closer to 200 than 1200.
The pair continued to interact with each other over the course of many hours, during which time Musk seemed to grow more irate. "Twitter is super slow on Android. What have you done to fix that?" he asked Frohnhoefer.
When the developer tweeted that Musk should have asked questions about Twitter's slow performance privately, a commentator in the thread wrote that Musk probably doesn't want Frohnhoefer on his team. "He's Fired," wrote the world's richest man, to which Frohnhoefer responded with a saluting emoji.
Frohnhoefer, who had been with Twitter for eight years, told Forbes that it took around five hours for Twitter to lock him out of his company-issued laptop. He told the publication that he'd received no formal communication from the company about his dismissal. "They're all a bunch of cowards," Frohnhoefer said.
"No one trusts anyone within the company anymore," Frohnhoefer explained. "How can you function? Employees don't trust the new management. Management doesn't trust the employees. How do you think you're supposed to get anything done? That's why there's production freezes - you can't merge code, you can't turn things on without permission from VPs."
Some people have criticized Frohnhoefer for calling out Musk's apparent mistake in a very public way, warning that he has likely done irreparable harm to his career. But he appears to have already been offered another job at Reddit.
Eric, this thread is absolutely bonkers. We're hiring senior and staff Android engineers at Reddit. We won't treat you like this.--- Jameson (@softwarejameson) November 14, 2022
Another employee, Sasha Solomon, whose bio lists her as tech lead/staff software engineer at Twitter, retweeted Musk's original post, writing, "you did not just layoff almost all of infra and then make some sassy remark about how we do batching. like did you bother to even learn how graphql works" On Monday, Solomon tweeted that she had been fired for shitposting. It appears that Musk never responded to her tweets directly.
just because some dipshit doesn't understand what we built doesn't make it (or us) any less awesome--- firstname.lastname@example.org (@sachee) November 15, 2022
Several others outside of Twitter's ranks have also called Musk's statement into question, though he seems to be sticking with it. But maybe he will learn more about the platform's systems now that he's sleeping at Twitter HQ until the company is "fixed."
Technical folks look at it and say "lol, that's BS, if it were 1000 RPCs on load, the home screen would take minutes to load" and maybe immediately go check to see that, yes, the number is much smaller--- @Pwnallthethings@mastodon.social (@pwnallthethings) November 14, 2022
Musk has just come off another online spat, this one with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The politician told the billionaire to fix his companies or "congress will."
Check out this roundup of all that happened at Twitter last week, from bankruptcy warnings to turning the platform into a payment processor.