On Friday, August 2, two very surprising things happened on Twitter. At 7:21
PM Pacific Time, users sent 143,199 tweets in a single second, a new record
for Twitter activity. Most of the posts came from Japan, where TV viewers
tweeted in unison as the classic anime Castle in the Sky reached its climax.
The deluge of messages, about 25 times more than the average of 5,700 tweets
per second, was an unprecedented strain on the social network’s
infrastructure. Even more shocking: the Fail Whale, the image Twitter serves
up to users when it’s over capacity, was nowhere to be seen. In fact,
sightings of the social media users' most loved (and most loathed) marine
mammal have been few and far between recently. As Twitter prepares for its IPO
Thursday, the company seems to have finally nixed its most glaring technical
issue. “Twitter’s done a really great job of getting a handle on their service
reliability,” says James Caverlee, a professor in the department of computer
science and engineering at Texas A&M University. “If you go back a few years,
you’d see the fail whale all the time.” A Whale of a Problem In 2007, ...