August 7, 2009, 12:00 AM

Attack stops Twitter, and stops retailers from communicating with customers

Social network Twitter was attacked by hackers yesterday morning, resulting in users being unable to access the site. The outage not only affected people who wanted to tweet about breakfast, but also retailers trying to connect with shoppers.

 

Social network Twitter was attacked by hackers yesterday morning, resulting in users being unable to access the site for a few hours beginning around 9 a.m. Eastern time. The outage not only affected people who wanted to let their followers know how awful their morning at work was or if Starbucks was out of muffins, but also retailers trying to connect with customers and run promotions.

“We were running a fun promotion with the green blog Ecorazzi on their Twitter Thursday, and I’m sure a lot of our customers missed out,” says Tracey Tee, co-founder of Delight Networks, which operates e-retailer Delight.com.

The Associated Press is reporting that one or both sides in the political conflict between Russia and Georgia may be responsible for the denial-of-service attack, in which a massive number of computers are made to access a web site simultaneously. The attack, the AP reports, may have been started because of political views being spread using Twitter.

Twitter, founded in 2007, had 21 million unique U.S. visitors in June, according to The Nielsen Co. 102 of the top 500 e-retailers operate Twitter accounts, according to the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Social network Facebook also experienced problems yesterday, with intermittent outages. But it is not clear whether the Facebook outages were related to the Twitter attack.

“What I really was struck by yesterday was that Twitter going down was top news. That shows how integrated Twitter has become into people’s lives,” Tee says. “If anybody was underestimating the power of Twitter, I think yesterday proved that it is indeed a very powerful thing.”

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