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Twitter Down

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By Emily Long June 16, 2010

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Twitter, the ever-growing popular microblogging social network, has experienced some trouble in the past few days. Users increasingly have seen periods during which the site is over capacity and it slows down as a result. Company execs have acknowledged the site isn't quite ready to handle the high traffic demands, but as these delays become more regular, it begs the question: What should Twitter really be used for, and does the federal government fit that model?

In a blog post on social network GovLoop, consultant John Theriault questions whether Twitter is ready for government (and conversely, whether government is ready for Twitter). Twitter last week announced it is seeking a government liaison to help connect federal agencies with the site.

Theriault points out that Twitter, in its current form, may not be reliable for agencies that have come to depend on the service to disseminate critical information quickly and widely.

Among its uses, Twitter has been deployed by public officials in emergency situations to supply critical information. We can easily see more of this in the future. Think of [National Atmospheric Administration] or the {environmental Protection Agency] and the oil spill cleanup, the Forest Service searching for a lost hiker, [Transportation Security Administration] with an airport incident, and the list goes on. That's before we even get to local governments which evidently Twitter has hopes this candidate will also engage. That's a whale of a job (and yes, the pun was intended).

Further, Theriault says that before Twitter makes a move for the government market, it needs to realistically identify its limitations. After all, if agencies start to rely on the service as a common (and mission-critical) form of communication, Twitter needs to be ready.

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