Twitter was down, unresponsive, on Thursday morning as the West coast Twittersphere was having a second cup of coffee. The first reaction for many Twitter addicts was to tweet that Twitter is down. "Sorry, I'm afraid I can't do that," Twitter would have to say.
That's how deep Twitter has burrowed into the DNA of the followers and the followed, who in sum produce nearly 3 billion tweets per week.
Twitter, like any other site, is vulnerable to outages, whether from internal engineering problems or outside attack. (Facebook, for instance, had its own outage on May 31.) Twitter, which just moved into a new headquarters in San Francisco, appeared to be flummoxed by the outage. After about an hour, the company said the site was back up, but after a short period it failed again. As Twitter stabilized Thursday afternoon, the company tweeted a brief explanation for the outage: "Today's outage is due to a cascaded bug in one of our infrastructure components."
The fact is life on the Internet comes with crashes, even with a premium account. The Twitter, Google, Facebook or Microsoft cloud is not going to deliver 99.999 reliability -- downtime is less than 5.26 minutes per year.
It's a probably a good day for Google+ and Facebook, as Twitter users look for alternatives to conduct their online social lives. It's not a good day for businesses using the Twitter API to create or enhance their products and those depending on Twitter to get their messages out and generate traffic.
For Twitter, it's a familiar episode that was rather frequent in its formative years. During that period Twitter was famous for going down, and the Fail Whale screen that appeared on those occasions. The more modern and revenue-focused Twitter, on a path to IPO, can do without embarrassing crashes that prevent the stylings of hundreds of millions of Twitterphiles.
Last updated: 1:00 p.m. PT to add Twitter's explanation for the outage