Update: On its blog, Twitter said the outage came from within their data centers. “What was noteworthy about today’s outage was the coincidental failure of two parallel systems at nearly the same time,” blogged Engineering VP Mazen Rawashdeh
As my CNET News colleague Dan Farber pointed out in a post, “Twitter downtime translates into financial loss, especially for those who use Twitter’s promoted tweets to tout their businesses and products.” And of course there is a financial cost to Twitter itself which, according to Farber, is expected to generate about $300 million in advertising revenue this year.
Of course there are plenty of “costs” that are hard to quantify. Millions of people use Twitter to keep up on current events. It’s the way many people in the world found out about the death of Michael Jackson, before it was reported by the media. Some people around the world learned about Japan’s massive earthquake in real time via Twitter. I “tune in” to Twitter during major news events to get updates and commentary from people I trust. It was a major source of news for me during the Arab Spring uprisings last year.
As I joked in a CBS News segment, I would normally use Twitter to find out about a major Internet outage. but when Twitter is down, you can’t really use Twitter to find out about Twitter.
Actually that’s not entirely true. Although Twitter.com was inaccessible, I was able to get some Tweets via the Tweetdeck application running on my PC and there were reports that people were able to access Twitter’s mobile service, though I couldn’t get through.
Bottom line — Twitter has become part of our culture and even though it still is being used by only a minority of the population (Pew Research reported that 15% of online adults use Twitter and 8% do so on a regular basis), its impact is felt around the world.