WASHINGTON: Twitter went down for around 30 minutes on Thursday, leaving millions of users without updates from friends, celebrities and news providers a day ahead of the opening of the Summer Olympics.
"Howdy folks, looks like we're experiencing a small interruption of Twitter.com and some mobile clients. Thanks for your patience!" the US firm wrote on its support site.
Twitter accounts accessed by this news agency from its Washington office showed no or patchy updates from around 1600 GMT, but the service was gradually restored, with many users posting messages expressing relief.
And many took to Twitter after it was restored to joke about the outage.
"Wow. Wasn't sure I'd survive that @twitter outage. I even took to Facebook. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Thankful it's back," Michael Schlact tweeted.
"Took time during the Twitter outage to explore some self-improvement," Jason Carlin tweeted. "I've written two novels, learned Esperanto, and knitted a sweater."
Last month the service was taken down for several hours by what the company described as a "cascading bug," but the cause of Thursday's problem was not immediately clear.
In its early days, Twitter was notoriously unstable and would display a picture known as the "fail whale" on its home page when it experienced one of its frequent outages.
The service has become more reliable over the past couple of years, however, and down time is now infrequent.
At the Olympics, athletes are expected to share their Twitter handles, and tweet their experiences using the site.
Twitter, which allows its members to post brief comments, links or pictures, claims to have more than 140 million active users, with the largest number being in the United States.
A recent survey found one in seven Americans who go online use Twitter and eight percent do so every day. (AFP)