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 17,417.65 226.28 1.32%
Nasdaq 4,684.28 46.29 1.00%
S&P 500 2,022.95 20.79 1.04%
Treasuries 1.75 0.03 1.57%
Data as of 3:44pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 118.97 3.66 3.17%
Yahoo! Inc 43.67 -2.79 -6.01%
Bank of America Corp... 15.44 0.25 1.61%
Facebook Inc 77.20 0.96 1.26%
Microsoft Corp 42.08 0.90 2.17%
Data as of 3:32pm ET

Sections

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two black CEOs in the elite Dow 30. More

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two black CEOs in the elite Dow 30. More

China has new rules for foreign tech firms: become a spy tool and give up your highly-guarded computer source code. More

On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More

The IRS said it has carried out thousands of audits of offshore schemes and pursued criminal charges that have resulted in "billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions." And it won't stop there. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.