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Twitter fail whale resurfaces as site struggles with outages

June 15, 2010 |  1:33 pm

It’s whale season at Twitter. As in fail whale, the cuddly mammal that has been resurfacing on a lot of screens lately to signal that the popular site has crashed.

Failwhale Technical glitches and a new location feature are the latest culprits to down Twitter, sometimes for several hours at a shot. Oh, and don’t forget the tsunami of World Cup tweets.

Twitter spokesman Sean Garrett calls it the worst month since last October "from a site stability and service outage perspective." Here's a month-by-month look from Pingdom.

A major outage Monday night prompted an update to the Twitter status blog as engineers worked to get the site back up. Service was restored early Tuesday morning only to crash again. Even when the service is up, users have complained that tweets have disappeared and character counts were wrong. To wit: Monday’s trending topics included: #whiletwitterwasdown and# failwhale.

The rolling outages are an unwelcome reminder of Twitter's early days when the site had a tough time keeping up with the flood of new users. These days it's growing at a rapid clip and it's trying to roll out new features, a double whammy. Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief operating officer, said last week that the site is now approaching 200 million users and processes more than 65 million tweets a day. 

Most users shrug off the glitches. Fail whale is an illustration of a flock of birds hoisting a whale in a net from the ocean. It's the work of Yiying Lu, an artist and a designer in Sydney, Australia.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Twitter's fail whale. Credit: Manuel Iglesias

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