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Twitter’s Capacity Problems and Net Neutrality

For users of Twitter, this will come as no surprise, but the service has massive capacity issues. The text message based social network (for lack of a better description) crashes more frequently than a drunk teenager with an eye patch. It has become almost comical that a significant volume of the chatter about Twitter relates to its failings.

Word out of Twitter yesterday was their more “popular” users were fuqing it up for everybody else. Anytime someone with 25,000 plus followers and 21,000 followees sends a message, it craps out their database. This has led to more than a few helpful suggestions for them to redesign their backend to better manage the load.

Ironically, this is the perfect illustration for the problem with Net Neutrality. Here you have a service with no management at all, and a very few large scale users are screwing it up for everybody else. They’re sucking up all the available capacity and the guy with a small handful of followers is unable to reach them.

An unmanaged service becomes a free for all where a small minority can consume the available capacity. A managed service creates a situation where the consumption of some users is restricted for the benefit of the wider audience. In this case, the Twitter community is clamoring for management of the backend to produce a better front-end experience.

It very clearly demonstrates the net neutrality problem – how do you balance a system to provide the best possible experience for the broadest possible audience? With Twitter users the demand is for better load management. With net neutrality proponents the demand is for no management (or worse, a government defined management plan).

I think it’s funny that many of the Twitter users are likely the same people calling for net neut, yet they don’t see the irony in their conflicting positions.

Written by Michael Turk