There was a time when the sight of the Fail Whale was common on Twitter, back when the growing startup struggled to keep pace with its users and the sheer volume of tweets. Much has changed since then — including many more users and, of course, Twitter’s recent IPO — and now the company has admitted it killed off the cult whale this past summer.
The Fail Whale is a thing of the past. Actually, this summer we took the Fail Whale out of production. So if you come to Twitter, and there are always gonna be problems, no service is ever perfect. But right now you will see robots instead of the Fail Whale. So the Fail Whale image is not served by Twitter anymore. It had a long history and some of our users feel very connected to it. But in the end, it did represent a time when I don’t think we lived up to what the world needed Twitter to be.
Twitter had already effectively slayed the whale by improving its service and minimizing downtime, so the chances of spotting it were fairly remote. Still, those of us who were acquainted with it will mourn the passing of a symbolic image.