Twitter Not Scaling to be the 911 System for the World

Twitter has become so many things to so many individuals and organizations: a social network, a platform to share your knowledge and interests, a marketing vehicle, or a way to share news about interesting events in real-time.

Our monitoring shows Twitter’s Web site was completely down from 6:43 a.m. – 7:43 a.m. EST yesterday morning. The home page was displaying the fail whale.

Twitter Fail Whale

The diagnostics show that Twitter’s site was responding with an HTTP 502 bad gateway error. An interpretation of that error is the Web server, while acting as a gateway or proxy, received an invalid response from the upstream server it accessed in attempting to fulfill the request. Meaning, the back end was unavailable.

Interestingly, the outage during this time correlates closely with the 6.1 aftershock in Haiti at 6:03 a.m. EST.

Twitter is a powerful platform. However, the data seems to show that they do not have the capacity to be the 911 system for the world. It can be an early warning system at times, but as a primary means of communication, perhaps not yet.

Here’s a quick look at yesterday’s results:

Twitter Response Times_Jan 20 2010

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