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It’s a reality that has to be faced by all users of Web-based applications: there will come a time when your service will be disrupted.

This morning, Twitter experienced a denial-of-service attack¬† and was down for a few hours. Facebook and LiveJournal were both down for a while as well. At this writing, it wasn’t clear if there was a connection between the outages, and it’s hard to tell just how many people may have been affected. According to TechCrunch, 45 million people rely on Twitter as a communication platform, and Facebook’s stats page claims 120 million users log on at least once a day. So that’s a lot of people who couldn’t use their chosen method of communication.

I’m a fan of both Twitter and Facebook. But today’s outages point out a pretty serious flaw I see in the way social media works right now. If everyone is relying on the same application to communicate — NOBODY can communicate when things go wrong.

Now, all those Tweeters and Facebookers probably have email addresses that they can use for communication while the sites are down, and that speaks to the bigger picture for me. These networks can’t possibly really replace email. There was a lot of talk not so long ago about how email is obsolete and would be put out to pasture sooner rather than later. I think today’s event kind of shows how that’s just not going to be the case.

As long as there are numerous email providers and platforms and applications, mass outages shouldn’t happen to email like they will on social media sites. I’m comforted to know that my email contact list contains people using a slew of providers.¬† When everyone is logging in to one place to communicate, it just seems like a recipe for disaster.

If by “disaster” you mean the inability to send 140 character updates.

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