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About Twitter’s mid-day outage in support of Iran bloggers

2009/06/24

There is additional significance to the mid-day Twitter outage that occurred June 17, 2009 that should not be missed.

Many parts of the world are used to mid-day outages of an America-hosted site that periodically comes down for maintenance.

If 2 A.M. in the U.S. is during your business day, then your business is frequently affected by these outages.

It may only be an hour, and it may be a predicted outage, but it can still cause pain.
The inherent message that your region is not important to the owning company is a motivation to consider other providers, where they exist.

Today Twitter was down during the American afternoon, intentionally in preference to supporting the Iranian tweet community protesting the Iranian election results. Let’s separate the good intentions for this move and consider the event by itself.

This is a very rare (if not a first) instance of a region being shown preference over the large American market.

On the one hand, equality of languages, cultures and regions is a key principle behind internationalization and is to be welcomed.

It is newsworthy if this attitude becomes a new trend where social networks must consider their worldwide users and give balanced support.

At the same time, if Twitter is also a business application, then its business users require consistency of support and reliable availability.

So as social and business network media become significant across the world, the conflict of which markets suffer through these necessary outages will become more important. This points at an issue of significance behind today’s outage.
To be relied upon, Twitter and other social media must adopt techniques that guarantee worldwide uptime. Maintenance methods that provide for continued service as improvements or repairs are made, must be employed.

It cannot be ignored that many American and other Twitter users were anxious not only about Iran, but also the other topics they were discussing and perhaps necessary for business or other reasons, during the hour Twitter was down.

How many more mid-day outages will Twitter users accept before they shift to other more reliable services?
Not many. There is no time of day where large communities of users are not hurt by outages.
Social networks need to get behind 24×7 uptime and phase in maintenance.