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Where do tweets come from? We break down the sources of Twitter updates

August 24, 2009 2 comments

We’ve already written a few posts about Twitter. But the other day, I had an idea: why not find out where those tweets are coming from? Third party Twitter apps are commonplace (like TweetDeck and Twitterific), and there are also services that automatically tweet posts in RSS feeds (like Twitterfeed).

We looked at 101 random tweets from the public timeline, and discovered that only about half of all tweets come from users on the Twitter homepage itself.

(I know, we’re saying “tweet” and “Twitter” way too much.)

Here are the results:

  1. Web / mobile web: 48 tweets
  2. TweetDeck: 11 tweets
  3. UberTwitter: 7 tweets
  4. Twitterfeed: 4 tweets
  5. By Text message: 3 tweets
  6. By API: 3 tweets
  7. HootSuite: 3 tweets
  8. Tweetie: 3 tweets
  9. Twitterfox: 2 tweets
  10. Twitterfon: 2 tweets
  11. Other, with one tweet each: 15 tweets

In case your wondering the services used on one tweet or less were MovaTwitter, Twitterific, ShareThis.com, Twittelator, WP to Twitter, Twibble, TwitPic, Twicli, Polyvore, Tumblr, Twhirl, Snaptu, TwitterBerry, Tween, and TwitterRide.

Results represented as a graph:

TweetsBySource

How do you tweet?

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Categories: Social Networking

Denial of Service attack launched against Twitter

August 6, 2009 Leave a comment

About 2 hours ago, Twitter reported that their site was down, and that they were determining the cause. They then posted a follow-up post saying that they were under a denial of service attack, and that Twitter was back online but still being attacked.

Using Twitter this morning, the service has been going online and offline. If Twitter was online when you loaded this blog post, the Twitter logo below, hosted at assets0.twitter.com, will appear. If it doesn’t, Twitter is most likely offline.

Here’s the image:

Twitter has not provided any additional information on their blog or status blog other than the fact that they are in fact under attack and a brief description of what a DoS attack is. We’ll post additional information later as it becomes available.

Update 1: The Hot URLs list on Alexa, which shows which websites are being visited the most, updated every 5 minutes, shows Twitter.com as the #1 URL, followed by an article on President Obama, and then a CNN article on Twitter being brought down, Twitter.com/home, the Twitter Status Blog, a Wired article on Twitter being brought down, and a Mashable article on Twitter being brought down.

The fact that the first, fourth and fifth URLs are on Twitter hints that this may be a relatively sophisticated DoS attack. Those URLs being brought to the top could be from the computers attacking Twitter and frustrated users reloading pages to try to get Twitter to load.

Update 2: On Twitter the top trending topics are DDOS (meaning denial of service attack) and Denial-Of-Service. Apparently, word has spread about the attack.

Update 3: Twitter has announced on the Twitter Status blog that “As we recover, users will experience some longer load times and slowness. This includes timeouts to API clients. We’re working to get back to 100% as quickly as we can.” I’m inferring that the attack is over, although that was not directly stated.

Update 4: The service we use to post our articles to Twitter, Twitterfeed, was unable to tweet this article because of a 500 error received from Twitter. The error was on Twitter’s part.

Update 5: It looks like Twitter might have API issues for a while longer. This means that services like Twitterfeed and Bit.ly will not be able to post to Twitter. I had to manually post this article to Twitter, and it has already received 14 clicks (DDOS being a trending topic).

Update 6: According to CNET, Facebook has also been under a denial of service attack, but it only shut down some of their services, and the site was able to stay online. More info here.

Categories: Social Networking

A hidden alternative to Twitter?

June 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Twitter, the most popular microblogging website, allows users to post “tweets” about what they’re doing, or thoughts. Millions of people use Twitter to post updates about themselves, or connect with others. Companies are beginning to get Twitter accounts (ironically, even Facebook has a Twitter).

Twitter is another example of how a small group of people, with a relatively low budget, can make a huge worldwide impact via the Internet.

To get a good idea of this, just look at Twitter’s headquarters (pictured below). They don’t even own the entire building, just the top floor.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/10/Building_where_Twitter_HQ_is.jpg/800px-Building_where_Twitter_HQ_is.jpg

But Twitter may have an unforeseen competitor that could take at least some potential users: Google. And surprisingly, I’m not talking about Orkut, which has pretty much failed to catch on among the social networking crowd.

The service? Google Reader.

Again, one of the main reasons people join Twitter is to stay connected with companies and other people. Each user has a unique page displaying tweets from the users they are following.

Well, everyone has an RSS feed as well. And Google Reader has the ability to merge RSS updates from a number of feeds into one page, displaying them in chronological order. Sound familiar? You can stay connected via Twitter without a Twitter account, but only recieve tweets.

I will note that Twitter has major features that Google Reader lacks as far as tweets go. For one, on Twitter, you can select a certain group of users that will exclusively recieve your tweets. That can’t be done with an RSS feed. Next, links cannot be as easily followed on Google as they can be on Twitter. And finally, the interface just isn’t as clean and easy to use on Reader compared to Twitter. Numerous options appear on the side, which someone who used the service just to recieve tweets would probably deem unuseful.

So is Google Reader really a threat to Twitter? No. But is it a hidden alternative? Yes.

Categories: Social Networking