Twitter collapses as 'my location' feature debuts

Twitter crashed for more than three hours yesterday afternoon New Zealand time – the sixth day in a row the wildly popular microblogging service has experienced problems.

When the service finally came back online, Twitter’s support team acknowledged there were multiple errors, including tweets displaying twice, incorrect character counts, and messages missing from people’s timelines.

Twitter said that disappeared messages would be restored. But NBR’s traumatised technology editor reports his Favourites columns are still wiped.

Twitter Places off to rocky start ...
The multi-hour failure coincided with the introduction of a new geo-location feature, “Twitter Places” launched in partnership with Foursquare (already popular with Kiwi tweeters) and Gowalla.

If you have a GPS-enabled mobile, and enable "tweet my location' (under Settings), each of your status updates will be tagged with not raw map coordinates (as previously available), but the specific name of the workplace, cafe, bar or bus stop you post from. A place name can be automatically added from Twitter’s database or, if it’s not present, manually added.

It’s a boon for friends ... and anyone from a boss to a burglar who wants to track where you’re at.

... though not to blame
But while yesterday’s outage occurred at the same time as Twitter Places’ introduction, officially the there’s no link between the two events, with the site’s official status blog blaming a timeline caching error.

As Twitter has gained in popularity - the service now has an estimated 65 million users - its network infrastructure has at times struggled.

The service’s infamous overcapacity error message, the Fail Whale, has made repeated appearances over the past month, especially as traffic has spiked for events such as Apple’s iPhone 4 launch and the World Cup (which server company Akamai reports has pushed internet traffic to an all-time high).

The fail whale has appeared every day since last Wednesday, with Twitter offline for a cumulative five hours this month according to tracking site Pingdom.

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If Twitter was run by Telecom, by now we'd be seeking the CEO's head on a platter for failure to ensure the continuous provision of an essential service

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