Twitter site shut down in computer hacker attack; Facebook also investigating site problems

BY Dave Goldiner

Updated Thursday, August 6th 2009, 11:57 AM

Twitter.comA computer hacker attack disrupted Twitter Thursday morning.

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OMG, u r not gonna believe what got hacked.

Yup, Twitter was knocked off the Internet for hours on Thursday, depriving millions of social media addicts of their daily dose of tweets.

Facebook, the online umbilical cord for gazillions more Web dwellers, also had on-and-off access woes.

That’s right, no chatting about Thursday night’s dating disasters or snarky comments about the new guy in the business office.

Where’s the party this weekend? Without Twitter, you might have to – gasp! – pick up the phone and find out the old-fashioned way.

“I had to Google-search Twitter to find out what was going on,” said Alison Koski, a New York public-relations manager, who admitted feeling “completely lost.”

The Twitter outage began at about 9 a.m. and lasted a few hours.

Facebook, whose users encountered intermittent problems yesterday morning, was also hit by a denial-of-service attack, though it was not clear whether the same hackers were involved.

Twitter has 20 million users a month, a mind-boggling 3,400% increase from last year, and is the go-to source of info for everyone from “Gossip Girl” types to opposition activists in Iran.

“Clearly they need a stronger infrastructure to be able to fight this kind of attack,” said Graham Cluley of computer security firm Sophos.

Technology business analyst Shelly Palmer said denial-of-service attacks are a reality of the information age.

Jokes aside, they amount to economic sabotage and should be treated seriously.

“This is a crime,” said Palmer, managing director of Advanced Media Ventures Group. “It’s a real crime and it should be treated that way.”

Twitter was once down so often that it designed a special logo to inform users that it was offline.

Millions of Twitter users aren’t familiar with the three-year-old service’s history of frequent outages because they began tweeting in the past six months, around the same time the company started boosting its computing power.

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