August 5, 2012 Editor 0
TWITTER’S Olympic coverage got off to as bad a start as Great Britain’s medals campaign. The day before the opening ceremony, when Twitter launched its London 2012 hub with NBC, an American television network, the site crashed for more than two hours. Users were blocked from its home-page without explanation; the mystery issue also affected access from mobiles and apps.
The vice-president of engineering at Twitter, Mazen Rawashdeh, blamed the crash on an “infrastructural double whammy”, which roughly translates as a problem with Twitter’s data centres. More of a surprise was the way the glitch was fixed: for a short time users appeared to lose all their followers. Pity. Twitter apologised to users in frank and friendly terms. It should also say sorry to its investors.
The deal with NBC, in which no money changed hands, aims to raise Twitter’s public profile. Last year Twitter teamed up with Fox and PBS, two other American broadcasters, in the hope that more airtime would result in more advertising contracts. Bloomberg recently revealed Twitter’s plans to generate $1 billion from adverts by 2014. But technical glitches, which have plagued Twitter repeatedly in the past, could affect these plans for growth. People can only communicate their breakfast choices if Twitter is up and running.
Yet Jan Rezab, chief executive at Socialbakers, which keeps track of social media, isn’t worried about Twitter. He sees the site as a “standalone social platform” (ie, a quasi-monopoly), which protects it from desertions by annoyed users. Yet many hundreds of people just couldn’t resist taking to Google+ and Tumblr to release their frustrated tweets.
Twitter’s infrastructure will certainly be tested further by sudden spikes in site traffic during the Olympics. More than 2m people had something to say about the games on its first day according to Socialbakers’ statistics. On July 30th the service seemed more congested, at times, than London’s transport networks. If the site can’t support its tweeting multitudes without crashing, it risks being disqualified. #Fail
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