Twitter has inexplicably gone offline midday Thursday (ET), with the Twitter.com homepage delivering 503 server errors indicating temporary overloading or server maintenance. All told, the service appears to have been offline for approximately 20 minutes. As of this writing service has been restored. A glance at real-time Twitter search engine Twazzup showed a 20-minute gap in posts on a popular trending topic.
It's unclear whether this is the sign of another denial of service attack, like the one that hit Twitter along with Facebook and Google's Blogger service two weeks ago, or just a temporary glitch. The attacks on August 6 were reportedly motivated by political reasons, targeting a Georgian blogger.
Even after the initial wave of attacks, Twitter continued to suffer disruptions. "The DDoS attack is still ongoing, and the intensity has not decreased at all," wrote Chad Etzel, from Twitter's application development platform support team, two days after the first wave. Even once the site was back online, third-party apps such as Übertwitter for Blackberry still had problems.
Last week, on August 12, Twitter went down again, but the outage only lasted for about 30 minutes. Experts weren't sure whether the incidents were related, but they nonetheless reflected poorly on the social messaging site's ability to fend off hackers.
The latest outage appears to be shorter than all the rest. If a denial of service attack is to blame, perhaps Twitter has learned the hard way how to better manage them.
I've sent an e-mail to Twitter's press inbox seeking comment.