Everyone’s always raving about the huge popularity of Twitter given its limited feature set. After all, the service lets people share whatever they’re doing, eating, listening to, reading, etc. in 140 characters, and that’s basically the gist of it. Of course, we’ve learned that it can be extremely powerful for a variety of reasons, like enabling people to keep up with your friends’ social activities without cluttering your e-mail inbox or Facebook account, for instant news, real-time search, etc.
But some time ago, about two hours at the time of this writing, the constant waterfall of Twitter messages has abruptly stopped updating. Status update messages are simply no longer being published, neither on the Twitter home page or through any of the third-party clients, and even Twitter search no longer crawls for recent messages, as you can tell from the screenshot below. The basic functionality of Twitter is still there though, so you can still update your own stream, but the conversation has ended. All you can do is go to individual profile pages for people you’re following and take a look at what they’re tweeting about, but that’s it.
Suddenly, Twitter feels like a pretty lonely place for people to hang out, and complaining about the problems on the service itself feel kinda stupid.
The Twitter team is based in the U.S., where it’s now the middle of Friday night, so there’s no way of knowing how long it will take before the issue is resolved. Twitter Status remains silent on the problem so far, but to the best of my knowledge no messages seem to have gotten lost. Thank God.
We’ll update as soon as the Twitter train starts rolling again.
Update: messages seem to be trickling in again, but with a lag.
Update 2: should be back now. Lucky for Twitter this happened on a weekend during the night (at least U.S. time) so most users won’t have even noticed. But it goes to show how dangerous it is to rely on a free third-party service for important communication.