Those missing celebrity tweets have been recovered

When Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscar selfie tweet went missing, it was our generation’s equivalent of the Mona Lisa being stolen.

Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement (is it though?). But it was certainly noteworthy Tuesday night when Twitter, faced with the latest in a slew of technical difficulties, simply lost a number of celebrity tweets—including the infamous celebrity selfie that took the place of comedy at the Oscars this year.

Many of those tweets have since been restored, however, there is still no clear explanation for what happened. And along with other recent network errors, this incident raises concerns about the financial future of Twitter.

The issue began Tuesday when highly trafficked posts from a number of top celebrity users like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and DeGeneres just vanished from the network. After about 12 hours, many of the affected tweets were restored, as confirmed by a message from the company.

“We are currently researching a bug that has caused some Tweets to not be displayed,” the Twitter status account stated.

It’s still unclear whether this bug only impacted high-volume Twitter accounts or if it also deleted the tweets of the lowly rank-and-file who don’t count their followers with a “K” at the end.

Among the tweets that went missing were the Oscar selfie, recently deceased Glee star Cory Montieth’s final tweet, and a photo of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga that included a message warning parents never to leave their children alone with the latter.   

This is the third time in March that Twitter has experienced significant technical difficulties. The site crashed during the Oscars after DeGeneres tweeted out her picture (which quickly became the most retweeted in Twitter’s eight-year history). Then the site went out for about an hour again on Mar. 11.

This is a particularly crucial time for the social network, which just went public back in November. Though Twitter certainly has a high level of cultural penetration, the total number of active monthly users was only about 241 million at the end of 2013. To put that in perspective, Facebook has 1.23 billion active monthly users. Even the Facebook-owned Instagram is poised to overtake Twitter having just passed the 200 million monthly user mark. To keep it’s numbers competitive and cement it’s value on Wall Street, Twitter will need to get a handle on these technical snafus.

Image via Scipion/Flickr

Tim Sampson

Tim Sampson

Tim Sampson is a reporter who focused on the technology, business, and politics beats. He's also an established comedy writer, with work on Comedy Central and in The Onion and ClickHole.