Twitter can't kill the Fail Whale

fail_whale.top.jpgTwitter users trying to hit the site this week frequently encountered the site's Fail Whale image, which shows up when the service crashes. By Laurie Segall, CNN


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A week-long run of networking equipment problems and other technical issues continued plaguing Twitter Tuesday morning, as users seeking messages from their friends instead encountered the site's iconic "Fail Whale."

The timing was ironic, coming the morning after Twitter co-founder Biz Stone accepted three Webby awards on behalf of Twitter last night, including one for social networking. As the microblogging site creator gave his five-word acceptance speech in New York City -- "Every character counts. Thank you." -- Twitter's engineers back in San Francisco were struggling to make sure the site actually displayed all the characters users tweeted. Throughout the night, tweets went missing, character counts were incorrect, and many Twitter features disappeared as the engineers battled site breakdowns.

At 4:11 a.m. PT, they declared victory. Less than three hours later, the crashes started again.

Twitter is no stranger to glitches, but this month's run of them has been the worst in nearly a year. Traffic tracking site Pingdom reports nearly five hours of complete downtime so far in June, and Twitter's blog has logged serious errors every day since Wednesday.

The crashes come as Twitter is working to strengthen its infrastructure and roll out new features. On Monday, Twitter made its entry into the geolocation game with "Twitter Places," which allows users to geographically tag their tweets and integrates popular location apps like Foursquare and Gowalla.

Twitter is frank about its struggle to keep up with its explosive expansion: "We've had a lot of growing pains," co-founder Biz Stone told CNNMoney last week in an interview.

But as the site grows up, so do the expectations placed on it. "The difference between now and a year ago is no doubt what makes it harder, which is the sheer number of users," says Gizmodo writer Matt Buchanan. "It is basic infrastructure now. It's more painful when it goes away.

Some of these struggles are inevitable -- and users may continue to shrug them off.

"Whenever they update, it's a tough problem because it has to function in real time," says Charlene Li, founder of social media consultancy Altimeter Group. "When you're scaling tech like this, you reach plateaus where the tech has to scale, and it doesn't."

But eventually, even patient users get tired of battling glitches. "If this continues to happen, it's going to dampen people's enthusiasm for using it," Li said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,399.67 19.26 0.12%
Nasdaq 4,316.07 57.64 1.35%
S&P 500 1,904.01 17.25 0.91%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.02 -0.82%
Data as of 2:40am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 99.76 2.09 2.14%
Bank of America Corp... 16.26 0.05 0.31%
Pfizer Inc 27.93 0.10 0.36%
Facebook Inc 76.95 1.00 1.32%
Microsoft Corp 44.08 0.45 1.03%
Data as of Oct 20

Sections

Better-than-expected iPhone sales and record Mac sales lifted Apple in its fiscal fourth quarter. More

China's economy has clocked its worst quarter in more than five years, raising concerns over Beijing's ability to meet its own annual growth target. More

In three years, all Chicago high school students will have to take a coding course in order to graduate. More

Host a furniture market. Here's how small town High Point, N.C. rakes in this much money -- twice a year. More

Detroit has 80,000 dilapidated properties and 100,000 empty lots. It's trying to get more people like Antjuan Wyatt to buy them. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.