Sep 12, 2022 - Economy

Twitter loses key data center due to extreme heat in California

Photo of Twitter's blue bird logo on the exterior of a building

Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco. Photo: Nina Riggio/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Twitter lost a key data center that went offline due to the extreme heat wave in California last week, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Major social media platforms largely rely on these data centers — facilities that house computers, servers and storage systems — to keep their services running. Another outage may result in Twitter going dark for some of its users.

Details: The outage led to a full shutdown of Twitter's physical equipment at the Sacramento location, according to an internal memo obtained by CNN.

  • "On September 5th, Twitter experienced the loss of its Sacramento (SMF) data center region due to extreme weather. The unprecedented event resulted in the total shutdown of physical equipment in SMF," wrote Carrie Fernandez, Twitter's vice president of engineering, in the memo.
  • As a result, Twitter is in a "non-redundant state" as of Friday, according to the memo.
  • Its data centers in Atlanta and Portland remain operational, but if another one goes offline, "we may not be able to serve traffic to all Twitter's users," Fernandez said.

What they're saying: "There have been no disruptions impacting the ability for people to access and use Twitter at this time," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Climate change poses risks for the physical underpinnings of the Internet, including the data centers that require large amounts of energy for cooling.

  • The California heat wave that began on Aug. 30 and lasted through Sept. 10 broke more than 1,000 warm temperature records in the West. It set an all-time high temperature of 116°F in Sacramento, where weather records go back to 1877.

The intrigue: The outage is timely given that Twitter's systems and security will be in the news this week as the whistleblower Peiter Zatko testifies in Congress on Tuesday.

  • Zatko, who served as Twitter's head of security until he was fired in January, has alleged that the company misled regulators about its efforts to protect Twitter from security threats.
  • His whistleblower complaint claims that executives withheld crucial data about insufficient protection for user data and the number of breaches Twitter has experienced.
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