Updated 5:51 p.m. ET, Thursday, July 26
Twitter suffered a massive outage on Thursday mid-morning Eastern time, the company confirmed, the second such major service disruption in as many months. Service seemed to have been restored shortly after 1 p.m. Eastern.
“We’re aware of the issue and are looking into it,” a Twitter spokesperson told TPM in an earlier statement, declining to elaborate on the nature of the problem.
Twitter’s official status webpage, which is separate from the main website where users can post and read each others’ tweets, the 140-character messages that make up the service, offered little more in the way of information, stating: “Users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue.”
In a stark display of the magnitude of the problem, Twitter’s homepage began displaying the following error message around noon, not even able to show the company’s infamous “Fail Whale,” an error message that consisted of a cartoon image of a whale, which became well-known to early users of the service for its frequent appearance:
Aside from being an inconvenience for Twitter’s upwards of 140 million active users, the massive outage, which appeared to be global in scope, came at an especially inopportune time for Twitter’s business ambitions.
Twitter also recently announced a deal with NBC to provide a special section of its website for curating news about, and tweets from the athletes participating in, the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
In the absence of more concrete information, some users speculated that it was Twitter’s new Olympics page that could have resulted in the massive outage on Thursday.
Twitter service also went down for several hours almost one month prior to Thursday’s outage. Twitter later explained that the June 21st outage was caused by a “cascading bug,” or a software error that spills into other programs and causes further errors to propagate.
At that time, Twitter vice president of engineering Mazen Rawashdeh profusely apologized for the disruption in an official blog post, stating: “We know how critical Twitter has become for you — for many of us. Every day, we bring people closer to their heroes, causes, political movements, and much more….It’s imperative that we remain available around the world, and today we stumbled.”
Just before the outage on Thursday, Twitter announced minor software updates to one of its official “client” applications called Tweetedck. Twitter clients are apps that allow users to access Twitter without navigating to the website. It was unclear if the updates, mostly cosmetic, were tied to the outage.
The Twitter outage also followed a major disruption of Google Talk, better known as “Gchat,” a web chatting service from Google that is built into its email program, Gmail. That outage was resolved after a period of four hours.
Late update: Twitter late Thursday explained that the outage was the result of two parallel data centers failing in succession. Twitter vice president of engineering Mazen Rawashdeh again took to the company’s official blog to apologize, writing that the engineering team was “making the service even better and more stable than ever.”