Twitter offline: Site goes dark on day of big announcement

Twitter today announced the expansion of its "promoted tweets" advertising platform. Too bad the microblogging site could barely stay online.

Twitter's CEO Dick Costolo introduces a new advertising initiative at an event in Cannes on Thursday.

Outages! They happen. And on popular websites, where daily traffic regularly hits hundreds of millions of clicks, they can happen quite often. Witness the Great Gmail Outage of 2012. Or look to Twitter, which today crashed for at least two hours, inspiring what one site has described as a "collective Internet freakout." According to The Wall Street Journal, Twitter was offline from around 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern – years in Twitter time.  

Even now, the microblogging service seems to be flickering on and offline.

We were able to access our accounts at 2:30, although by 2:50, it was again unreachable. (Now it's back online but sluggish.) So what's causing the problems? Well, initially, some users wondered if the blackout wasn't the result of a hacker attack.

Twitter, for its part, is staying mum: A spokesman told CNN Money that "engineers are currently working to resolve the issue," but declined to get more specific than that. 

In the early days of Twitter, the "fail whale" was a familiar sight. But in 2010, Twitter started building, as a Twitter spokesman said at the time, a "more reliable and stable platform" – the company moved its base of technical operations to Salt Lake City and greatly increased its server capacity. Today's outage is a not-so-pleasant reminder of a past that Twitter would rather forget. 

In related news, Twitter announced today that it planned to expand its "promoted tweets" ad platform to 50 countries by the end of the year. 

"I'm extremely humbled by how quick and broadly Twitter has taken off an how we've done building something independent and timeless? This is a company that will last," Twitter founder Jack Dorsey said at a press conference in Cannes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Timeless" sounds good, of course, but first Twitter has to actually get back online. 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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