Like all social networks, Twitter is seeing unprecedented levels of demand amid the COVID-19 lockdowns. And this week, it's outlined how it's working to keep its systems running, while operating with reduced staff and hardware capacity, as it too grapples with the various impacts of the expanding outbreak.
As explained by Twitter:
"Keeping the service running and the Tweets flowing is one of our top priorities in these difficult times. Our work has never been more critical and our service has never been in higher demand. In the past few weeks, we have seen more and more people turn to Twitter to participate in the public conversation and follow what’s happening in real-time."
Indeed, Twitter recently noted that its monetizable DAU (mDAU) count is up to 164 million for the quarter, a 23% increase Q1 2019, and an 8% increase on its most recent performance update. In addition to this, Twitter says that it's also seen a 45% increase in views on its curated events page, which is currently focused on COVID-19 updates, while usage of DMs is also up 30%.
And that extra usage load is taking a toll on its systems:
"The effects of COVID-19 on Twitter have already surpassed any event we’ve seen, and it’s possible that as the pandemic continues, we will see additional stress on our service."
Twitter says that its physical infrastructure teams are currently keeping its data centers up and running, with staff operating under the “essential services” provisions in each region. But its operations are also under added strain due to hardware supply chain issues caused by delays in shipments from China, another impact of COVID-19.
"From our IT, Network and Product Engineering teams to our infrastructure and data center teams, we have collectively mobilized to ensure we are able to stay safe and productive under the stress of the new levels of traffic we’re seeing on our service."
Basically, Twitter says that it's doing all it can to meet rising demand, but as the pandemic spreads, it will continue to face more challenges - and you may see service delays as a result.
That's not to say that Twitter will suffer any major outages or issues, but like Facebook, it's warning that the increased strain is beyond anything that its dealt with in the past, and it may become problematic at some point.
It's yet another impact of the ongoing spread of COVID-19, which has already shut down so much of what we're used to. And while social platforms are having a key moment, an opportunity to showcase the connective value that they provide, they too are susceptible to the many flow-on impacts of the various changes and shifts being made in an attempt to halt the virus.
Twitter says that it will continue to report on any issues, and provide transparency on issues as they arise.