Twitter crashes as users scramble for a place to complain

3:07 PM, Jun 21, 2012   |    comments
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Cue the collective Internet freakout! Twitter went down for several hours on Thursday afternoon, depriving users of a place to complain that Twitter was down.

The Twitter outage began at 11:59 a.m. ET, according to Twitter's page on tracking site Pingdom. Service returned intermittently around 1 p.m., but less than an hour later, Twitter crashed again.

"Engineers are currently working to resolve the issue," a Twitter spokeswoman told CNNMoney.

Twitter updated its status blog at 1:42 saying "the issue has been resolved and all services are currently operational" -- but at 2:16, another update from Twitter backtracked and said "the issue is on-going."

An hour later, Twitter seemed to be working for most users. Shortly after 3 p.m. ET, Twitter's PR account tweeted that the issue was caused by "a cascaded bug in one of our infrastructure components."

That explanation came after a hacker group, UGNazi, claimed to several media outlets that it had taken Twitter down in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

The June 21 Twitter outage was the longest service disruption since an hour-long episode on October 7, which came during a month filled with hundreds of very brief outages, according to Pingdom's data.

Downtime is a common problem for websites, though Twitter has been far better lately than it was a few years ago, when the site became notorious for its extensive outages.

Thursday's crash was extensive enough that Twitter didn't even display its famous "Fail Whale" error message. Instead, the site simply timed out.

Twitter's temporary demise sent users to other social networks, including the blogging site Tumblr. As one commenter put it on CNNMoney's own Tech Tumblr: "I enjoy the fact that when Twitter goes down, my Tumblr explodes. :)"

Others confirmed the crash by checking sites like outage trackerdownforeveryoneorjustme.com -- which, coincidentally, is the brainchild of a Twitter engineer.

Alex Payne wrote about his creation in a 2008 blog post, which also chronicled Twitter's growing pains at the time: "Of late, I've tried as much as possible to focus my time at Twitter on building a new system that works at scale and does so predictably and measurably. That's not easy when the current system is still on fire."

Compared to those problems, Thursday's outage appears to be just a tiny little brush fire.

CNN, Julianne Pepitone

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