Well, that’s embarrassing: Twitter goes down during co-founder’s talk at SXSW

12 Mar 2014

Twitter suffered a rather untimely outage on Tuesday while its co-founder Biz Stone was being interviewed on-stage at the South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas, and users were invited to pose questions using the #askbiz hashtag.

Unfortunately, Twitter let its co-founder down, suffering about 45 minutes of down-time on desktop and mobile.

Stone appeared at SXSW as both co-founder of the popular social network and CEO of Jelly Industries, responsible for the ‘conversational search engine’ Jelly. His interview focused on the topics of the connected society and the science and nature of collaborative networks.

Unexpected complications

An error message from Twitter Status first said that most users were experiencing issues access the network on web and mobile, followed by a vaguely reassuring, “We’re looking into it.”

Later, Twitter Status expanded on the issue, explaining that a planned deploy in one of its core services resulted in unexpected complications. The change was rolled back when the issue was identified and a controlled recovery began to ensure the stability of the entire network.

For users trying to access Twitter during this time, they were first met with an error message citing technical difficulties then, later, a note saying the site was down for maintenance.

Fail Whale days aren’t over

This marks the second outage this month for Twitter, which also went down during the Oscars ceremony on 2 March following the selfie that shook the world – a photo of the show’s host Ellen Degeneres surrounded by a bevy of A-list celebrities that quickly became the most retweeted tweet of all time.

Long-term Twitter users will remember the oft-spotted ‘Fail Whale’ that graced their screens during all-too-frequent outages on the network in years past. However, yesterday’s messages were accompanied by two new characters: a caterpillar being hurried on by an ice-cream cone who then decides, “It’s cool. I can chill.”

Error messages on one of the world’s most popular social networks might be frustrating, but Twitter certainly knows how to take the sting out of the experience with cute graphics.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.