The day the tweets died: Twitter goes down because of an attack

On Thursday, was down for about two hours. In the past, the site has shut down service for upgrades or repairs; this time, the shutdown was not planned.

"The site is back up, but we are continuing to defend against and recover from this attack," Twitter wrote on its status update blog after 11 AM EST. "We are defending against a denial-of-service attack." Even so, over an hour after Twitter said that the site is back up, many folks are still unable to get it working.

As more demand is put on Twitter to keep its site running 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week, its users will become less patient, assuming Twitter had figured out a way to deal with service outages after more than three years of serving its customers. In some ways, the site could be a victim of its own success: Twitter fans may have been more forgiving of outages when the site was thought to be a club of insiders by the early adopters of its technology. As it becomes more popular, however, Twitter may be running out of such goodwill. As it grows to a hoped one billion customers by 2013, users will expect the site to be able to handle such attacks.

Mashable's Pete Cashmore wrote that Twitter was down because it was "saturated with so many fake requests that the victim is unable to return legitimate ones. Knowing that the cause is a malicious attack does take Twitter off the hook to some degree." reported that Facebook was down briefly today at the same time as Twitter, but returned "shortly thereafter." There were other denial-of-service attacks early this week: on Monday, sites operated by Gawker Media had problems. Allegedly, The Consumerist blog, which is hosted by Gawker Media, also had problems.

Twitter has also been dealing with spammers and technical issues. Last week, the company said some of its newer members were having trouble with their followers. Some were seeing followers dropped without any action on their part. Other Twitter account-holders were unable to have folks sign up and follow them at all.

"This includes seeing empty followers lists and zeroed follower counts," Twitter wrote on its status blog on July 28. "We're actively working on this problem and hope to release a fix soon."

Twitter has not responded to requests from DailyFinance for information regarding last week's followers problem and details about who might be responsible for today's attack.

Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. You may follow him on Twitter at hianthony.
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