2843144877 f98211df97 300x198 Twitter ceases to exist... even the Fail Whales on holiday (update: The Social Media Apocalypse?)

Update: Twitter is suffering a DDoS attack. See below.

Okay, I know full well that the moment this post is published it will come back, but at the moment there’s a very odd kind of failure going on at Twitter. In fact, it’s like Twitter’s ceased to exist.

While downtime at the microblogging giant is nothing new, this failure is exceptionally strange. The site is not loading at all (not even a Fail Whale!) and every third party Twitter client has stopped working. What’s strangest of all is that Seesmic Web, the browser-based  Twitter client, is showing an Error 404 right now – you’d expect it to at least load an error page. It’s as if Twitter in all its forms has literally disappeared.

Of course, everything will probably be back to normal within a few minutes but for now it’s a reminder of just how fragile the web services we rely on are. Maybe two paper cups and a piece of string would be a better approach?

UPDATE: Twitter’s Status Blog says they’re “determining the cause and will provide an update shortly”.

UPDATE 2: Livejournal is also down, some people are reporting Facebook is down too (although it’s fine here). Usually when a number of sites go down at the same time it’s due to shared hosting solutions such as Amazon S3 suffering problems. Something similar may or may not be the problem here. Twitter is returning periodically, although logging in is proving impossible here.

UPDATE 3: Twitter are now saying that the problem is a Distributed Denial of Service attack. They claim the site is back up and running but that doesn’t appear to be true here. Who is responsible for the attack is unknown.

UPDATE 4: All’s back to normal now but the whole episode has shown just how much some people have grown dependent on Twitter. The power maliciously minded people have to bring down what some people treat as a vital communications tool is frightening.

[Image credit: dotbenjamin on Flickr]