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
Laura Ryan and Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Laura Ryan Alex Brown
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 »
RESTROOM ISSUES RETURN
Trump To Rescind Trans Protections
50 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is planning to reverse an Obama-era order requiring that schools allow students to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Trump "has green-lighted the plan for the Justice Department and Education Department to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools rescinding the guidance." A case is going before the Supreme Court on March 28 in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his high school for forbidding him to use the men's room.

Source:
NAIVE, RISK TAKER
Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump’s Mind
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."

Source:
“HORRIBLE” AND “PAINFUL”
Trump Addresses Threats On Jewish Community Centers
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS
COULD COME TUESDAY
Trump Set To Issue New Travel Ban
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is set to issue a new and more focused executive order clarifying the scope of his travel ban, hoping that the order will survive legal challenges. The new order would focus on the same seven countries, "but would only bar entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States before. Unlike the original order, people from those countries who already have permanent U.S. residency (green cards) or visas would not face any restrictions." Some lawyers believe the government will now have much stronger standing, though lawyers who challenged the initial order see the same core problems with the forthcoming ban.

Source:
KELLOGG WILL RETURN TO NSC COS
Trump Taps Lt. Gen. McMaster as NSC Head
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump announced Monday that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster will serve as his next national security adviser, filling the void left last week by the sudden dismissal of Michael Flynn. ... Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who had been serving as the acting national security adviser since Flynn's exit, will return to his role as chief of staff of the National Security Council." The pick was widely praised on both sides of the aisle.

Source:
×
×

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