All links posted to Twitter stopped working for a short period of time earlier today, highlighting some of the shortcomings associated with the company’s t.co link shortening service.

The problem occurred at roughly 2:45pm BST (9:45am ET), but was resolved by 3:10pm BST (10:10am EST). During that period, any user who clicked on a link shared through Twitter, including third-party desktop applications such as TweetDeck and Tweetbot, or native mobile apps such as Echofon or Twitterrific, experienced the problem.

While the t.co service was down, the following error message appeared for any clickable link:

Screen Shot 2013 04 11 at 15.01.16 730x403 All links on Twitter temporarily stopped working, demonstrating the problem with the t.co wrapper

The rest of the Twitter service was working normally during the outage, however, suggesting that the problem was restricted to the t.co link shortening service only. Tweets could be sent as per usual, but because link sharing is a fundamental part of the Twitter service, it did cause some widespread (if short-lived) confusion among its users.

The following message was shared by Twitter shortly afterwards: “Some users may have experienced an issue with links contained within Tweets. This issue has been resolved as of 7:10 am PST.”

It’s not uncommon for any Web-based service to experience problems from time-to-time. Google Drive had some intermittent problems last month, denying its users access to particular folders stored in the cloud, while Foursquare ground to a halt for five hours back in January.

What today’s temporary outage does show, however, is the major drawback with relying on a single service for managing links.

T.co handles all of the links posted to the social network, ensuring that users retain the maximum number of characters for the rest of their tweet. On a day-to-day basis it works fine, but if and when the service does run into any problems – as it did today – the entire social network grinds to a halt.

It’s unclear what Twitter can do to prevent this issue, but it’s clear that the company needs to try to address this problem sooner, rather than later.

Image credit: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images