AUSTIN, Texas – The biggest online social networking company in the world has gone dark, just as its founder has been on the brink of a new career in the entertainment industry.
The sudden shutdown of Twitter has put a heavy financial burden on the company, and led to speculation about the future of the social network.
Twitter announced Thursday that it had shut down its services to protect itself from the mounting legal and regulatory issues that have emerged from a massive hack of its user data.
Twitter had been the subject of several high-profile lawsuits over alleged abuse of its users.
But now the company is facing an avalanche of legal and financial troubles, with the latest being a suit against former CEO Dick Costolo.
Costolo has been a frequent target of lawsuits, and his legal woes have come to a head recently, as a group of Twitter users filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco against the company for $3.8 billion.
The suit alleges that Costolo abused his position of trust by providing access to private information, including the names, email addresses and telephone numbers of nearly 40 million users who have followed Costolo and his company.
The suit also alleges that he failed to properly disclose the nature of the security breaches at Twitter that led to the breach, which could potentially have exposed private information to third parties.
Twitter did not respond to requests for comment on the suit.
Twitter has faced several lawsuits over the past year.
In June, Twitter was forced to pay $250 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over alleged copyright infringement in the wake of a tweet that mocked the singer Selena Gomez.
That same month, Twitter settled a lawsuit over false allegations of copyright infringement over a tweet by former social media manager Alex Lacy.