Summary:

Users experienced delays and a downed service from Twitter on Monday as the company experience outages as the result of a routine change. The stakes have grown higher for Twitter in what a fail whale means.

twitterfailwhale
photo: Copyright Yiying Lu

Twitter was down for nearly half an hour on Monday afternoon, which the company later confirmed was as the company confirmed was the result of a “routine change” that caused tweets to become unavailable. Many users went a fairly long time with no new tweets appearing, which Twitter explained in a blog post after the issue was fixed:

“Due to an error in a routine change, Twitter was not available from 1:08pm PDT to 1:33pm PDT.  We rolled back the erroneous change as soon as we identified the issue. Additionally, some users may have experienced Tweet delivery delay from 1:33pm PDT and 1:53pm PDT.  We apologize for the inconvenience.”

A nearly 30 minute update is a substantial amount of time, particularly considering that the outage occured around the time the markets closed. Anecdotally, we heard that some users were able to get tweets through the Chrome app for Tweetdeck during this time, but people’s experiences were mixed.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a lengthy Twitter outage, as the days of constant fail whales seemed to be over. We wrote extensively in 2011 how Twitter’s shift to its own custom-built data center made significant headway in cutting down on those types of delays.

But nearly 30 minutes of delays in 2013 is a different story than it might have been just a few years ago. Now that tweets are flowing through Bloomberg terminals and can affect stock prices in seemingly an instant, the stakes are much higher for Twitter if the site goes down. Not to mention the advertisers and media companies Twitter is now accountable to.

Note: This story was updated and revised substantially to reflect changes in the information from Twitter and the status of the outage.

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