Why Twitter’s Temporary Outage Was Actually a Really Big Problem

January 19, 2015: The Day Twitter Went Down.

It’s common — and usually inevitable — that a popular social media website will experience an outage at some point after acquiring millions of users. The problem is usually fixed by the time people begin posting on other social media sites that their preferred social platform is down. All in all, the situation usually doesn’t have too many repercussions for the business or its users.

But the situation was a little different when Twitter recently experienced an outage affecting millions of users in London, Switzerland, Bangkok, and New York.

For starters, as Inc. reported, Twitter is the fourth-biggest social media network with 350 million active users, following Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

According to the Huffington Post and USA Today, Twitter’s web and mobile services went down around 3:40 a.m. EST and the outage continued until around 9:50 a.m. EST. Many users saw that load times were still slow after the site became live again, and the outage also affected third-party apps like Tweetdeck and Tweetbot.

On the comical side of things, the temporary outage meant that people were actually forced to do work at their desks, or maybe browse a real newspaper, instead of scrolling through dozens of tweets; as many Twitter users evenacknowledged, it’s not exactly the end of the world that “people will have to look up for a while to see the world around them.”

However, it’s worth noting that the outage isn’t a good sign for Twitter. The company used to be known for its constant outages during its early days of popularity, but those instances came in short 10-15 minute spurts.

“Technical issues are never good,” said Tech Crunch, “but for a service that trades on providing a real-time stream of information, they hit at the very core of the product.”

This situation highlights something that many web design experts know all too well: one small mistake in the coding or the design of a website can have major consequences.

Twitter stated that the outage had been caused by an “internal code change” and the company subsequently reverted the change, but the outage actually lasted long enough to influence Twitter’s stock prices. As Tech Crunch reported, its stocks hit a new 52-week low when they fell to $15.48 on Jan. 20.

When the stakes are that high, Twitter definitely has something to worry about.

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