Can A Single Tweet Bring Down Your Website?

Last night, the website for the awesome web design firm Digital Telepathy went down for four hours. Chuck Longanecker (@dtelepathy) of Digital Telepathy reached out for help via twitter: “@mediatemple Need help, we just got tweeted by Tim Ferriss and our site is down. We upgraded 30 mins ago & no dice yet:http://dtelepathy.com

So who is Tim Ferriss (@tferriss) and how did he bring down a website with a single tweet? Tim is the author of the #1 NY Times bestsellers, The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek. Here’s the tweet that did the damage: “The 4-Hour Website - How @dtelepathy helped me build a bestselling website for my last book: http://hello.gs/PTGbqq

The link is to a case study Digital Telepathy did about the website they did to help Tim launch his new book. Who wouldn’t want a best-selling author to tweet a link to their site? Well, Tim has around 350K followers and the sudden load was enough to bring down Digital Telepathy.

It used to be that the biggest such threat was being mentioned in a post on Slashdot. Today, website owners and operators have to be ever-vigilant in their efforts to make their site resilient to sudden traffic spikes. As the Internet grows and evolves there are more and more ways to get slashdotted.