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OMG, Twitter down: Sporadic outage leads to speculation of hacker attack

“We’re borne of mobile,” CEO Dick Costolo said in response to a moderator’s question about the difference between Facebook and Twitter. “We have an ad platform that already is inherently suited to mobile, even though we launched our platform on the Web and only started running ads on mobile recently.”

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The social networking service Twitter suffered sporadic outages Thursday, leading some to speculate about a hacker attack.

Access came and went, with reports that users were being affected around the world. In a brief update, the company acknowledged some people were having issues using the service.

"Users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter," they said in a statement. "Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue."

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A micro-blogging service that allows users to send short messages, Twitter has been likened to an international party line. There are myriad running conversations, to which anyone can contribute. As of March there were 140 million active users who generated over 340 million tweets daily, Twitter says.

Not long after its initial message, Twitter said that the issue had been "resolved" and that all services were operational.

Users often are quick to turn to Twitter to pose questions about emerging events. But in an ironic twist, Thursday's outage was initially so pervasive that users couldn't take to the twitterverse to discuss what was happening. But on message boards, comment fora and other social networking services people voiced their concern.

Some wondered if the site had been attacked by a distributed denial of service attack by the hacker group Anonymous. Others bemoaned the lack of access.

"I'm losing my mind!" Matt Gio wrote at mashable.com. "I have so much to talk about today and I have an important blog post scheduled."

But some took the outage humourously in stride.

Olivia Bovery posted at Facebook that she was "going through withdrawal" and going to step outside. "There is this bright yellow ball in the sky that must be investigated. Seems to be giving off a lot of heat. Wonder what it is."

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Moments later she followed up. "Finally, its back up! Back to twitter. Yellow ball will have to wait."

According to Twitter's official communications account, the outage was caused by "a cascaded bug" in one of the company's infrastructure components – in essence, a bug "that isn't confined to a particular software element," but one that cascades into other elements as well.

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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