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Gmail is down, Twitter sizzling with the news

Google's e-mail service is offline, and frustrated users are hammering Twitter with reports and details of their experience.

Google's e-mail service Gmail is offline for many users right now. Those wondering if they are alone in experiencing the outage can find comfort on Twitter, which is up and sizzling with Gmail down alerts. To track the spread of the outage (and to find out when it is corrected), take a look Twitter Search, which is posting dozens of items a second about the outage.

Not what you expect from Google.

Some Webware readers are reporting that Gmail's business e-mail service is also down.

Users already logged into Gmail when the outage started may be able to read messages in their in-box, although sending messages generates an error.

Update: Many users are reporting that the straight HTML version of Gmail is still working (some say it does not). Likewise, access via IMAP is still functioning for some users.

More updates: Google's blogs are strangely silent on the topic, but the Gmail Help Discussion in Google Groups has the official updates about the outage. Also, some users are reporting that Gmail is working for them again.

Update, 3:40 P.M. Pacific Time: Gmail is recovering, according to Google and reports from users. The Gmail Help Discussion saw this post added at 3:30 P.M.: "Engineers have pinpointed the issue causing the 502 errors and it looks as if users should start to regain normal functioning of their account. Thanks for being patient while we worked to sort out this problem."

The first official notice of the outage was at 2:31 P.M.

Update, 5:30 P.M.: According to a Google spokesperson, "The issue was caused by a temporary outage in the contacts system used by Gmail which prevented Gmail from loading properly."

Update, 9:40 P.M.: Google is sorry.