Tuesday evening, for the third time in a month, Twitter experienced technical difficulties. It wasn’t an outage from high traffic or developmental testing — it was missing celebrity tweets.
It sounds flippant, but celebrity presence is a big part of what makes Twitter so popular. Yesterday, for at least twelve hours, several highly trafficked tweets from stars like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Ellen Degeneres disappeared. In fact, it was Ellen’s beloved Oscar selfie, jam-packed with A-list celebrities and retweeted more than any tweet in the world, that became unavailable.
Luckily, it has since been restored, along with many others that disappeared. It is unclear if Twitter only gobbled up these few, highly trafficked tweets or if regular users have also been affected.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
Twitter posted on its status page that it is investigating the disappearing messages, and they seem to be doing just that. A tweet from Justin Bieber expressing grief over a fan who passed away is now available after going offline yesterday. The same is true of Cory Montieth’s last tweet before passing away, which was reported to have disappeared as well.
RIP Avalanna. i love you
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) September 26, 2012
oh. IT'S A SHARK TORNADO.
— Cory Monteith (@CoryMonteith) July 12, 2013
However, Lady Gaga’s tweet, which included a photo of Miley Cyrus and a warning for parents to never leave their children with Lady Gaga, is still down. Which is a bummer, since it sounds like a real treat of a tweet.
Earlier this month, Twitter went down for several minutes during the Oscars after Ellen tweeted the aforementioned selfie and wondered aloud if it would be the most retweeted message ever. The system cracked under the heavy traffic.
Then, on March 11, the site went down for over an hour.
Stakes are high right now for Twitter. The company just went public, and while it continues to generate revenue it’s unclear how well the mainstream audience will pick up regular usage the same way they do with Facebook and Instagram.
Meanwhile, Facebook is expanding into VR territory and up-and-comers like Snapchat are offering users a way to send messages that are actually supposed to disappear. It’s a competitive space, to say the very least.
And to add a little more pressure to the situation, Twitter has grown beyond the stage of wide-spread hour-long outages. Twitter is no longer a time-sink or a play-thing — it’s a tool used by millions of people every day. Lasting, wide-spread outages are damaging to a brand promising to democratize and distribute content faster than any other network in the world.
So hopefully, for Twitter users’ sake, the social platform can close down a rough March with the retrieval of these tweets and hope for a much better April.