The good thing about Twitter’s new Tweet Button is that it offers users an easy way to tweet interesting stories. The bad thing is that if anything goes wrong, it affects everyone using it — which thus far includes major sites like the Huffington Post and Gawker Media blogs, among countless others.
Today, only a day after the feature’s launch, visitors to sites that implemented the button began seeing popups that made it impossible for them to access the sites. The error only affected Firefox users, but it still caused a massive headache across the web. Web publishing firm Squarespace tweeted that it would remove the button from its blog until the problem was fixed — as did gadget blog Engadget, and technology news site Ars Technica.
Twitter announced that it was a “momentary” problem, and that it should be fixed by now. There are no further details on what exactly caused the pop-up error yet.
In the grand scheme of things, the issue wasn’t an outright disaster for Twitter — the problem could have affected more users, and it could have taken longer to fix — but it’s certainly the last thing the company needed so soon after launching a major new feature. It only reinforces the negative “fail whale” image of the service’s stability — except this time, Twitter’s issues have leaked out onto the web.
The hiccup also serves as a warning to web publishers. Third-party buttons and widgets are easy to put on your site, but when implemented badly, they can slow things down considerably — and in the worst cases, like this one, they can render your site completely inaccessible.