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Posts Tagged ‘is Twitter down’

Repeat After Me: High Error Rate On Twitter.com

This phrase, or a variation thereof, has come up multiple times (almost on a daily basis) on the official Twitter Status blog since June 8. And with good reason, because for a fortnight now we’ve seen a ton of unwelcome appearances from this guy:

Twitter addressed this somewhat on June 15, essentially laying the blame on the server-killing combo of the World Cup and the NBA Finals.

Last Friday, we detailed on our Engineering blog that this is going to be a rocky few weeks. We’re working through tweaks to our system in order to provide greater stability at a time when we’re facing record traffic. We have long-term solutions that we are working towards, but in the meantime, we are making real-time adjustments so that we can grow our capacity and avoid outages during the World Cup.

As we go through this process, we have uncovered unexpected deeper issues and have even caused inadvertent downtime as a result of our attempts to make changes. Ultimately, the changes that we are making now will make Twitter much more reliable in the future. However, we certainly are not happy about the disruptions that we have faced and even caused this week and understand how they negatively impact our users.

(The start of Wimbledon yesterday and the final round of the US Open this past weekend didn’t do much to help either.)

Fair enough. But while the World Cup has definitely turned Twitter from a moderate (if consistent) simmer to an occasional full-on boil, it’s not constant. World Cup games are fairly intermittent, and the outages don’t always occur during or immediately after the games.

And what about all those people who aren’t on Twitter during the World Cup matches? The World Cup is huge, sure, but I would imagine it’s only a fraction of people who continue to tweet whilst watching their country play (I know I don’t), or during the bigger games. I would expect that the majority of football fans log off and sit in front of their TV, entirely Twitter-free.

Sure, in the scheme of things, this is an acceptable period of instability. It’s unprecedented stuff. And Twitter is addressing some of these issues by intentionally taking the site down in the less-busy periods to perform essential maintenance. Which is clearly massively important, as the platform evidently has a problem supporting tweets during the peaks of major sporting events – especially when they come en masse.

That said, we’ve been here before, of course. The death of Michael Jackson hit the internet hard, and Twitter was no exception. While the tweet-per-second rate has set new highs during the World Cup, I find it hard to believe that it’s anywhere near the level of traffic and attention that the network received when Jackson passed – certainly like-for-like. The growth in users should have been cancelled out by the growth in staff and available funds.

Believe it or not, but Michael Jackson died exactly one year ago this coming Saturday – you’d have hoped that Twitter would have learned something about visitor management by now. After all, I haven’t seen Google or Facebook going down during the World Cup. Have you?

(Image credit: Diamondie.)

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Twitter Isn't Down As Much As You Think – 99.74% Uptime Since March 2009

Some interesting stats over at Pingdom.com, which tracks Twitter.com uptime since March 2009, as well as downtime and average response.

Twitter Uptime Averages 99.74%

Twitter has seen just 55 minutes of downtime thus far in March, a massive improvement on some of the frightening numbers we saw last year (although most of these can be traced back to one or two very bad days).

The uptime number is pretty impressive, but it’s interesting that the average response has been steadily getting slower since last November’s benchmark. Certainly not enough to notice, but that’s a trend that Biz Stone et al will want to see (at least) flattened. A significant reversal might be an unreasonable expectation given the growth we’ve seen in monthly tweet numbers.

Still, it does give confidence in the system, and makes you realise that Twitter isn’t as down anywhere near as much as it used to be. Although you might think otherwise judging by the number of tweets about it, even if asking ‘Is Twitter down?’ on Twitter is about as surreal as you can get.

When Twitter Becomes Too Big To Fail (Even For A Few Hours)

Yesterday, Twitter had all sorts of problems.

Many users had frozen timelines that hadn’t updated for hours, and others weren’t able to log into the service at all.

When Twitter Becomes Too Big To Fail (Even For A Few Hours)A lot of people were, perhaps understandably, furious. It’s often only when something is taken away from us, or presented in a way that is less than ideal or compromised, that we begin to realise the true value.

I reported on the issue, and when it looked like it wasn’t going to be resolved anytime soon, I did what I felt was the smartest thing in the situation – I closed down my computer, and I went out for the day.

If necessary, I could still monitor events on my iPhone. But really, it was nice to have a break. I’m on Twitter a lot, but it isn’t my life. My work, family and friends all come first, although my television time has definitely taken a beating.

But it is a huge part of my life, and that holds true for a lot of other people, too, including brands, journalists, small business owners, and everybody else who uses the resource to send and receive news, information and ideas. Twitter needs to sort out these downtime problems, because as the platform continues to expand and becomes an even bigger part of all of our lives, these blackout periods are increasingly becoming unacceptable.

The company hasn’t quite reached the too big to fail stage, at least not yet, but the concept has. After two years, Twitter isn’t something I do anymore. It just is. I don’t think, “I should see what’s happening on Twitter!” and then make myself go there. It’s all very natural and organic. I realise it isn’t that way for everybody, or even most people, but, month by month, it’s getting there. Every day, there’s more of us, and less of them.

As Dave Winer suggests, Twitter needs to start thinking about the big picture and sharing the server workload, even if it’s with competitors. If it’s an issue, now, with an estimated hundred million users, just how big a problem, and how much of an impact is downtime going to make on our lives when a billion people are left blankly staring at the error page?

(And the best part? When it finally comes back, half of all the new tweets are users complaining that the service was down. I’m just grateful there was something on TV.)

Twitter Having Login Problems, Many User Timelines Are Frozen

All sorts of issues on Twitter today. Some users are experiencing frozen timelines, and while Twitter is aware of the problem lots of folks are still unable to see any new tweets from yesterday. Those whose timelines have been restored are reporting a gap in their history of up to 12 hours.

Others are unable to login to Twitter.com at all, and I’m getting the super-useful something is technically wrong page over and over.

You can feel it, too. The network seems like a wilderness.

Hit the comments to let me know of any problems you’re having.

UPDATE: The issue seems entirely tied into Twitter.com. I still can’t access the home page. However, all Twitter clients (TweetDeck, Seesmic, Tweetie, HootSuite etc) appear to be functioning normally, although many timelines have been impacted simply through a lack of updates from those who predominately access Twitter via the web.

Twitter Frozen For 8 Hours. Checking Status Blog For News… Uh, What About @Twitter… Um, Anyone? Hello?

It’s working fine for me and (from what I can tell) most of the people in my immediate network, but Twitter is evidently frozen for a lot of users.

This used to be a fairly regular occurrence, of course, but it’s a pretty rare event nowadays. Indeed, I believe the last major failure was in October 2009, so that’s pretty good going for a company that is now delivering some 50 million tweets a day.

But, and as always, the real concern with Twitter is their ongoing problem with support and announcements. Head on over to the official status blog, and there’s nothing about this issue. Read the tweets from @twitter, and they haven’t updated since Friday.

No doubt we’ll get the official word from Twitter five minutes after it’s all started working again. If this has all been happening for more than eight hours (as Dave Winer suggests), then this verges somewhere between unacceptable and unforgivable.

It’s social media, right? What does it say when you don’t use your own platform to make announcements about your own platform? Maybe social negligence is closer to the truth.

UPDATE: Finally, Twitter is “aware of the issue and investigating.”

Yes, Twitter Was Down

And has been now for about half an hour, judging from the last response sent to @Twitter (Twitter search is still up).

Of course, there’s nothing about any of this at the moment on the status blog.

Yes, Twitter Is Down

Updates if and when they happen.

UPDATE 12:39 GMT: I’ve had it back a couple of times on Twitter.com, but it’s a fleeting glimpse at best before going down again.

UPDATE 12:45 GMT: Seems to be fully operational once more.

UPDATE 13:45 GMT: From Twitter, “We are recovering from this incident. A sudden failure coupled with problems in switching to a backup system produced a high number of errors for around 90 minutes. This made the site largely inaccessible. No data was lost or compromised during this outage.”

5 Ways To Protect Yourself For The Next Time Twitter Gets Hacked

Details are currently still a bit sketchy but Twitter was allegedly hacked overnight.

5 Ways To Protect Yourself For The Next Time Twitter Gets Hacked

As you can see, all indications point to the “Iranian Cyber Army” but my gut feeling tells me that a very different entity is likely the culprit. There’s also some talk that Twitter itself was not hacked at all, but that the domain name itself was simply re-routed to another server (now confirmed by Twitter), allowing the invaders to display their message.

But why take the risk?

Unfortunately, Twitter has a bit of a history with lousy security protocols. In just the past few months, major internal documents have been leaked, Twitter was stopped with a DOS attack, Jonathan Ross accidentally unveiled his email address and was then unable to remove it, and the admin team thought that the word “password” was good enough to use as an, uh, password. Twitter is very much a work in progress, but you don’t see this stuff happening on Facebook.

Here are five ways to protect your Twitter account now for the next time this happens.

1. Change Your Password Regularly

It makes sense to change your Twitter password on a regular basis – certainly every month or two. And change it to something that is hard to break, and made up of 10 mixed characters of letters and numbers – I recommend using this website, which is free and generates superb passwords.

2. If You Use The Same Password On Twitter For Other Websites, Change Them

We still don’t know if Twitter has been properly hacked, but if it has your data might have been compromised. This means that your email address and password may well be in the hands of somebody who wants to do bad things with them. So, if you’ve been using the same password on Twitter that you have for, say, your Facebook page, blog, or worse, your bank account, you should go there and change them right now.

And stop doing that – while it’s convenient, it’s far too much of a risk to use the same password for everything on the internet. If you have a lot to lose – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – consider a premium service like 1Password.

3. Don’t Openly Share Sensitive Information

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how often people discuss private security data on an open public platform like Twitter. You casually chatting with friends about why you hate your HSBC bank account tells everybody else that you (duh) bank with HSBC. Boasting that you’re about to spend two weeks in Barbados tells everybody else that your house is going to be unmanned for a fortnight.

Think before you tweet. Think about who might be reading this information – what is the worst thing they could do with it?

4. Don’t Panic

The thing that concerned me most during the Mikeyy exploit was how so many high-profile accounts (including celebrities and social media ‘gurus’) were sharing damaging and outright false information about the incident, which led to a lot of unnecessary panic.

While it’s absolutely normal to be concerned about your private data during events like this, analysing and evaluating the situation in a calm and intelligent manner is essential. Be careful what you retweet. Double-check everything twice. Don’t assume somebody else knows what is going on, no matter who they are. Find out for yourself.

5. Don’t Be That Guy

As above, it’s easy during situations like this to panic and start retweeting and spreading any old nonsense around the interwebs. Don’t be that guy. Don’t make things worse by initiating or sharing poorly-consider opinion and hyperbole. Make sure the information you are passing on to your network is as accurate as possible at the time it is delivered.

YOU need to be the voice of reason. If you’re running around like a headless chicken, talking about alien invasion and/or the apocalypse, then YOU are part of the problem. Try to be the solution. And if no reasonable information is forthcoming, avoid crazy speculation, certainly if you’re seen as an authority by your network.

After all, you want things to stay that way, right?

Yes, Twitter Is Down. Again.

While you can still access the site and make updates (which will appear, but can only be seen by you), that’s all you’ve been able to do on Twitter for the past 22 minutes. It appears the site started experiencing problems around 3:26pm GMT.

Yes, Twitter Appears To Be Down

This used to be a fairly regular occurrence but it’s the first time it’s happened in this manner for a while. (Recent outages have been more terminal, with the network being completely inaccessible.)

Hopefully it won’t be too long before it’s back up and running again.

UPDATE: I’ve also noted my following and followers counts keep resetting to zero. Also, if you visit select profiles, they seem to be updating, but it’s not coming through within your timeline.

1630 GMT: Curiously, Facebook appears to be glitching as well. I’m having to post updates twice before they ‘stick’. This can only mean one thing – alien invasion. They’re using our social networks against us!

1900 GMT: Replies appear to be working and appearing in your mentions folder. Reply somebody and if they reply you back, you should see it. (Thanks to @trniii for the tip.) You can also see updates by visiting profiles directly, or by using Twitter search.

Meantime, Twitter has updated their status blog with a report on the problem and is looking into it.

Twitter, Please, I’m Begging You… Give Us A Way To Backup Our Data

Yes, Twitter was just down. Like me, I’m sure that every time the network freezes or disappears completely you fear the absolute worst.

The thing is, one day, inevitably, something awful will happen. Servers will crash, hackers will run riot, and data will be lost. Your data.

I’m reminded once again why a facility to both backup and (critically) restore your tweets is nothing short of essential. Nobody likes the idea of having to start over. Particularly if it’s not your fault.