Twitpocalypse: "Open Source Twitter" proposed as antidote to Twitter's DDOS vulnerability


Twitter and Facebook were paralyzed this past week by DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks. As I understand it, those attacks are still ongoing. In this Wired Epicenter blog post by Eliot Van Buskirk, open source advocates propose that the only real solution to this vulnerability is to engage in another DDOS: "distributed delivery of service." As Bittorent is to filesharing, the thinking goes, so would an open microblogging network be to 140-character thought-blips.

“The total failure of Twitter during the DDoS attacks highlights the fact that, with Twitter, we're relying on a single service for mass communication of this type,” said open microblogging supporter and Ektron CTO Bill Cava. “Most everyone understands it's ridiculous to expect one service to provide email support to the world. The same is true for micro messaging. The reality is, it can’t and won’t continue this way for too much longer.”

The OpenMicroBlogging standard already exists -- it’s just that Twitter’s not playing along, possibly because it could lose market share if the open standard succeeds before it manages to monetize its service. One platform that adheres to the Open MicroBlogging (OMB) standard is, an open-source Twitter-style network launched by on July 2 of last year (others include OpenMicroBlogger and Google’s Jaiku)., which seems to have gained more traction than the other two OMB platforms, forms the backbone of — an open-source Twitter clone with features Twitter lacks (image uploading, trackbacks, native video playback, OpenID) that lets you post updates to its own network as well as Twitter and Facebook. will soon add the ability to follow Twitter and Facebook feeds using the corresponding APIs, so users will soon be able to make their default short messaging communications hub -- even if those services won’t use the open standard.

Open Source 'Twitter' Could Fend Off the Next Twitpocalypse ( Epicenter blog, thanks, Matt Katz)


  1. I’m glad you guys are starting to get onto the bandwagon. It’s about time people started drifting away from Twitter’s silo.

    Here’s the hilarious thing: Evan, the mind behind, already has a plan to monetize his open source system and is putting it into action. The FOSS version of a proprietary system has a better revenue plan than the closed system.

    How often does that happen?

    //Now, if only more Twitter clients would add options to use Laconica instances – they have a common API!

  2. it’s not just an open-source alternative to twitter: it’s also a free software alternative :D


  3. Link giving a 404. I’m curious if this means many content hosts, or would our client machines be acting as a load-balanced server mesh. I see this being incredibly important for communication in situations like Iran, where there is a clampdown of access to these servers. It would also be useful in natural disasters where there is no “internet” but people can form a wifi mesh. We need to be thinking about this stuff people, 2012 is just around the corner!!

  4. hmm, thought I’d use the latest twitter downtime to read this article, only to be greeted with a ‘Error 404 – Not Found’ message when I clicked the link. How delightfully ironic…

  5. Twitpocalypse?! It’s Twitter, not a nuclear complex. I feel fairly certain that the world will move onward and upward (or downward, as in this case) without melting down over a temporary lack of self-aggrandizement, attention-seeking, and time-wasting. Maybe not though; and those who don’t outlast this horrible, horrible event we could always just chalk up to social Darwinism.

  6. It is absolutely correct that a distributed architecture is the way to go. There is no question about that whatsoever. However, the sad reality is that it is not currently possible.

    I ran a server to serve the community that listens to my podcast. Their architecture is correct. Their goals, of being as easy to setup as WordPress, are admirable. The reality is that they are note even remotely close. just sucks. It’s an absolute nightmare to setup and administer. Half of the features barely work. I never got the e-mail working. the XMPP half-worked on a good day. They required you run all these daemons that ate up all the CPU. More than once it accidentally flooded my users with a backlog of SMS. It’s just not ready.

    If didn’t suck, I would definitely recommend everybody evacuate Twitter, but it does. So for now, Twitter is the way to go. Even with downtime, the critical mass of users, and many applications using its API make it the place to be.

    Even if, or some other open micro blogging platform, becomes useful, it just isn’t going to matter. By the time that happens, Google Wave will be upon us. If it lives up to its potential, it will replace micro blogs, blog comments, discussion forums, email, and instant messaging all at once.

  7. Twitter sucks. If you care that it’s down for a day, it’s time to look at the man in the mirror.

  8. Thanks for this post. Open source microblogging is a completely obvious solution that I nevertheless hadn’t considered before. Now I will.

  9. The web was created so people could communicate in a distributed manner. There’s no reason we need 3rd party websites to do things we already have the capability of doing.

  10. If only these ideas came before things got established instead of waiting for a service to get momentum and a monolithic user base before someone “innovates” on the shoulders of the successful product.

  11. I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t we just bag the whole shitty notion? A few days without John McCain’s staff’s micropolicy has been blessed.

  12. The centralism of Web 2.0 is a problem and always will be a problem. The dominance of Google, Twitter, Flickr etc make them a single point of failure, and – as we have seen in China, *and* in Western countries – a single point of censorship.

    Web 2.0 may be good in some ways, but the hype about central companies with near-monopoly status is BAD.

  13. is great, but it’s not just Twitter that can benefit from this way of thinking. The entire application web needs to be turned on its head and recentered around people rather than data.

    Check out Building the User-Centered Web, a talk I gave at Harvard in June. Companies like Facebook and Google understand that applications centered around profiles and personas are the way forward, but perhaps there ought to be a free (as in beer, speech and actions) version of this model too?

  14. Ben, Agger, I think you’ve got it. Distributed is more resilient, and it’s the web way. On the other hand, there are serious issues in trying to find your friends in a distributed social application.

    RSS feeds are great, but many folks are scared of them. Facebook, at the core of its functionality, is a combination of a blog, feedreader, and friendfinder. The friendfinder is the part of it all that facebook is kicking the web’s ass at. That, and that they’ve packaged it all together in a unified interface.

    I’d like to see a distributed flickr – something like FuckFlickr but with a social element built in.

    Perhaps if wordpress had a feedreader plugin that was somehow as good as TinyTiny or Google Reader – then folks would have one central place for themselves, but the web would still be a… web.

  15. @QEDX – I also failed at setting up my own instance, due to the XMPP integration. I wonder if pubsubhubbub would make all of this easier…

  16. We already have this. It’s called “text messaging” and it’s installed on just about every mobile phone.

    Crazier yet, the carriers have figured out how to make a profit off of this feature. Imagine that!

  17. I was wondering if there is a module that allows a server that is on a machine with a GSM chip, to use the chip to send and recieve microblog msgs.
    e.g. i want to be able to install statusnet on a laptop server which is online to relay my tweets through to twitter but keep most of my posts on my server. maybe even make it available to friends here in West Africa (Ghana).
    Since i came home i’ve realised the international # for twitter never posts my txted msgs.
    can b reached “@notmecharles” on twitter or “@anaman” on laconica.

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