Why Is Twitter So Slow?

1273 Words6 Pages
A simple Google search reveals a vast array of free-to-use Twitter visualizers. It is tempting to just throw one of these onto a projector and call it a solution for social media. Deeper inspection of these options expose critical challenges for the digital out-of-home (DOOH) implementer.

Twitter makes it possible to build applications and services on top of their user generated content by exposing a rich Application Programming Interface (API). There is a wealth of content available through this interface but reaching it can be problematic.

The most immediately obvious way to get Twitter messages, or “Tweets,” onto a DOOH screen is to build a Flash application using this API. Flash is the de facto standard platform for interactivity in both DOOH and the broader Internet. Unfortunately, we quickly run into the limitations imposed by the Flash security sandbox.1 For their own valid reasons, Twitter’s cross-domain policy prohibits third-party Flash applications from accessing most of their API.

Thus, DOOH implementers are forced to host a proxy server to relay API requests on their behalf.2 This proxy host imposes a single point of congestion on the application: users are limited to 150 requests per hour, per IP address. Even a small DOOH network will quickly hit this limit, filling screens with stale messages—or worse, no messages at all. Any requests passing through this proxy will also experience additional network latency and will be susceptible to outages and congestion at the hosting provider.

With Twitter’s blessing, it is possible to create special, “whitelisted” user accounts. A whitelisted account is able to make up to 20,000 requests per hour. This is not an SLA—you should still expect to see Twitter’s famo...

... middle of paper ...

...ble solution and would be prohibitively expensive.

Curation. It is already passe to note that attention is the new currency. When a campaign reaches a critical level of traffic, the moderator’s mission shifts from “is this message profane?” to “is this message worth the audience’s attention?” This is a different kind of problem and requires a different user interface.

Multiple Human Agents. Social Media is global, multilingual and subject to explosive growth. Any DOOH platform using it must enable large teams of moderators to be productive with a minimal learning curve.

The problems presented here are not unique to Twitter. Brands and users are beginning to expect seamless interaction across multiple channels and multiple social networks. Facebook, Foursquare, and Flickr all offer their own APIs. Each will add their own unique challenges for digital out-of-home.
Open Document