How Twitter Conquered the President’s Fail Whale

The social-media site says it’s ready for the State of the Union’s traffic surge.

Twitter probably won't be crashing during the State of the Union this year.
National Journal
Alex Brown and Laura Ryan
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown Laura Ryan
Jan. 21, 2014, 1 a.m.

Twit­ter’s “fail whale” has gone to a wa­tery grave, but the so­cial-me­dia site is prom­ising it won’t need the whale — or any re­place­ment for it — dur­ing Pres­id­ent Obama’s State of the Uni­on ad­dress later this month.

In­ev­it­ably, at some point dur­ing the ad­dress, one buzz-gen­er­at­ing re­mark will lead to a spike in tweet­ing, and Wash­ing­ton’s chat­ter­ing class will be ablaze with 140-char­ac­ter missives. In the past, this might have brought out the dreaded “fail whale,” a mar­ine mam­mal ex­plain­ing that something was askew and your tweet would have to wait. This time around, that won’t hap­pen, for two reas­ons:

First, Twit­ter ban­ished that whale this sum­mer. And second, the site’s keep­ers say they can handle whatever traffic SOTU watch­ers have to throw at it.

A Time art­icle last year noted Twit­ter’s ef­forts to cut its traffic-caused out­ages, shift­ing its back-end pro­gram­ming pro­cess and sep­ar­at­ing vari­ous func­tions. Since mid-2010, the site has rarely dropped be­low 99 per­cent up­time, with no out­ages at all in most months of 2013.

That’s a far cry from 2008, when mes­sage out­ages and “fail whales” were far more com­mon­place — and plagued the on­line re­ac­tion to then-Pres­id­ent George W. Bush’s fi­nal State of the Uni­on ad­dress.

But for all the talk of pres­id­ent’s an­nu­al ad­dress be­ing “Con­gress’s Prom,” it’s worth not­ing that it’s more whim­per than bang out­side the Belt­way: Last year’s speech saw a massive jump in Twit­ter traffic from 2012 levels — tweets nearly doubled from 767,000 to 1.36 mil­lion. At its very peak, Obama’s ad­dress garnered 24,000 tweets per minute, Twit­ter said. But that’s a pit­tance when com­pared with en­ter­tain­ment and sports events. The Su­per Bowl brought in 231,000 tweets per minute dur­ing the half-hour power black­out in the second half. And even the third most-viewed TV pro­gram in his­tory couldn’t touch the scan­dal­ous VMA per­form­ance of Mi­ley Cyr­us. That topped out at 306,100 tweets per minute.

Still not im­pressed? Those U.S. Twit­ter spikes paled in com­par­is­on to the Ja­pan­ese re­run of a 1980s anime movie in Au­gust — Castle in the Sky drew an in­sane 143,199 tweets in one second.

The com­mon thread to all those high-traffic 2013 events? Zero out­ages.

What We're Following See More »
13.5 PERCENT OF U.S. POPULATION IMMIGRANTS
U.S. Immigrant Population Hit 43.7 Million in 2016
44 minutes ago
THE DETAILS
Source:
ART THERAPY, HEALING WITH THE HEART
Second Lady Pence Rolls Out Initiative
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
SHOOTER STILL AT LARGE
Five Shot at Maryland Office Park
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS
POSITION HAS BEEN VACANT SINCE DEMINT’S OUSTER
Ricketts, Short Among Heritage’s Possible New Presidents
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

“The Heritage Foundation has narrowed its search for a new president down to a shortlist of finalists, a group that includes Todd Ricketts, a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, and Marc Short,a top Trump White House official. … Heritage’s board of trustees has also expressed interest in Lisa B. Nelson, the CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council, and David Trulio, a vice president at Lockheed Martin.”

Source:
STURCK BY ALEXANDER AND MURRAY YESTERDAY
Trump Unconvinced on Obamacare CSR Deal
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login