Did Asia Crash Twitter last New Year’s Eve? Apparently So

Time was when New Year’s Eve would creep up and your phone would start beeping frantically as all the text messages would come in. The mobile operators’ SMS network tubes would clog up and it would be impossible to get an SMS in, edgewise – until an hour past midnight.

Well that was then (maybe just about 3 or 4 years ago), this is now – and the reality of the now is that HNY greets are coming in through web and mobile messaging – BBMs, iMessages, Facebook status updates, and increasingly, #Twitter.

For several hours leading up to New Year’s Eve in our time zone (GMT +8), Twitter started to burp and grunt and finally ground to a halt, displaying the infamous Fail Whale and the “Twitter is Over Capacity” error message.

Since ramping up their infrastructure and now claiming to have 100 million users, the Fail Whale has been appearing with much less frequency. But on New Year’s Eve, the volume of greetings was just too much and overwhelmed the Twitterverse’s servers.

I put two and two together and deduced that this was a SouthEast Asian thing. After all,  Twitter is especially strong in Social Media happy strongholds like Indonesia and Philippines. And Japan has traditionally been a Twitter mad nation, being the first country outside of the US to have a Twitter office).

The Economic Times in London put it all in perspective by posting that Twitter clocked in a staggering 16,197 Tweets per second around midnight Japan time, which was a transaction rate that was enough to bring down the servers.

LONDON: Social networking site Twitter was out of action for over an hour in Britain after it was overloaded with New Year messages.

The site crashed around 3 p.m. Saturday. It coincided with midnight celebrations in Japan when revellers were sending a record 16,197 tweets per second, the Daily Mail reported Sunday.

The overload meant no one could post new messages or read existing ones. Instead, frustrated users were greeted with the error message: “Twitter is over capacity.”

The site returned to working order but then stopped on several other occasions, prompting speculation that it was being hit by the arrival of New Year in different parts of the world.

The meltdown happened as the world welcomed in 2012, a year of historic importance for Britain, with the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee set to be defining moments.

Up to 250,000 people poured into Central London, some in Trafalgar Square and others watching the pyrotechnics centred on the London Eye, the Mail said.

In Tokyo, people released helium balloons in front of the Tokyo Tower at midnight with notes attached listing their hopes for 2012. Many wished for a better year, following the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, the newspaper added.

The site eventually went back up, and as the celebrations creeped through the date lines towards the West, the servers held fast.

Which all indicate that Asians really take New Year much more seriously than the west, and that Twitter is becoming a preferred communications channel for ringing in the new year. #hny2012

Photo credit: New Year celebration photo – shot in Eastwood, Quezon City by Santi Magno. 

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