Twitter down right now: is it maintenance or hacking?

Twitter, the social network with the famously short character limit, is currently down. The site officially claims that it’s down for “maintenance” but it’s an unusual time of day for planned downtime, which leads to the question of whether there may be more going on behind the scenes. In a month in which various hackers have taken down everything from the Sony Pictures website to the PlayStation and Xbox gaming networks, such a conspicuous outage on Twitter is bound to raise some eyebrows.

Twitter’s official explanation is “Twitter is currently down for maintenance. We expect to be back shortly.” The site’s official status page stated an hour ago that “Some users are currently having trouble signing in to twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve this,” conflicting with the current claim of scheduled downtime.

In past years, particularly in the 2007 to 2010 range, Twitter was notorious for frequent unplanned downtime, with the entire network frequently crashing either because too many users were tweeting about a current event taking place, or for reasons which were never disclosed. But in more recent years, Twitter downtime has been rare – and maintenance has tended to take place in the middle of night, so as to go mostly unnoticed.

As a sign of the times, various Twitter users have taken to Facebook to complain about the Twitter outage, suggesting that downtime on one social network simply means a temporary boost in traffic for the other networks.