HughesNet Users Reportedly Cannot Search Twitter

Image by Justin Shearer via Flickr

NOTE: Dawn Stover has an update on this problem, see end of this post.

Increasingly, as Chris O’Brien recently wrote in the San Jose Mercury News, Twitter search is rivaling Google as a top choice to find out what’s happening right now. However, apparently some people who rely on HughesNet for broadband net access via satellite may be, at the moment, unable to use Twitter search.

I was tipped off to this by Dawn Stover of Popular Science. Dawn lives in a rural area of Washington state, and relies on HughesNet for satellite broadband. Today she wrote to me:

I can hardly ever click on Twitter Search without getting an error message: Status: 500 Internal Server Error Content-Type: text/html

I have searched Twitter Help to no avail. Googling suggests that this may be a problem unique to people who use HughesNet as an Internet service provider — satellite being our only option here in the hills. It doesn’t matter what browser I use. I’m not sure whether it is restricted to Mac users.

I’m wondering whether you’ve heard of others with this problem. It is REALLY frustrating because it makes Twitter almost completely useless.

I’m curious: Are many other HughesNet satellite customers are also experiencing this problem? Does it happen in some places and not others? Does this also happen to people using other satellite broadband providers? What’s causing it?

In the meantime I recommended that Dawn try Realtime Twitter Search Results — a Greasemonkey-based Firefox plug-in that incorporates the latest Twitter search results right into a regular Google search. I’ve been using it for a few days, and like it. (Hat tip to George Kelley for recommending it.)

UPDATE MAR. 10: Dawn Stover wrote me this morning…

I contacted HughesNet about the Twitter Search problem by email, and they referred me to the dreaded tech support phone line. So I wasted  45 minutes this morning going through all the normal diagnostics, power cycling my modem, yada yada yada. All the while trying to explain that IT’S NOT ME! Or at least it’s not JUST me.

Eventually this seemed to fix the problem (though not in Firefox, which is the browser I use most):
  • in the Safari menu, click on Preferences
  • click on Advanced
  • click on Proxies: Change Settings
  • check the box for Web Proxy (HTTP)
  • change Web Proxy Server setting to : 3128
Now I can access Twitter Search in Safari, although it is slow to load.
I don’t know whether this fix would work for other HughesNet subscribers. It might be specific to Mac, or Safari, or my specific modem or dish or site ID… but I guess the good news is that there probably is a way for other users to fix the problem by changing the proxy server setting. I never did find out what “500 Internal Server Error” means…
I wonder how many HughesNet users will be patient enough to go through all these steps rather than just giving up on Twitter. The folks at Twitter should be just as concerned about this as HughesNet. Even if this problem only affects HughesNet subscribers who use Macs but not Internet Explorer, for example, that’s still a sizable group of people.

And then later, Dawn reported:

After a day of living with this “fix” from HughesNet, I can’t recommend it to anyone else. It has made Safari unbearably slow at loading pages. All pages, not just So now I can’t use Safari for anything except Twitter. Better than nothing? I’m not sure anymore.

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11 thoughts on HughesNet Users Reportedly Cannot Search Twitter

  1. I’m having the same problem here in Vermont with HughesNet and “500 Internal Server Error”

    I tried with a Mac with Firefox and Safari, and with Win XP with Firefox and IE. Oddly enough, if I use open a Terminal window and type “curl” the html coming back looks pretty much like what you’d expect from the twitter search page.

  2. I’m a HughesNet subscriber living in the rain forest in Puerto Rico. I get the same “server error” for Twitter search. I’m running Firefox on Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) on all of our home PCs. Having rebooted into Windows (gasp!) to try it there.

    HughesNet uses Google on their “portal” page (, so maybe they have agreed with Google to not let Twitter search pass through?

  3. We’ve been using HughesNet for approx 3 years and have found it to be the most unreliable, unfriendly, and unsatisfactory internet service available. Having had the same problems, I gave up. But it not only happens with Twitter Search … I have the problem quite often. (I use FireFox and IE.) I’m done fooling with calling tech support. I’ve never been treated with anything other than disrespect as if I have no brain or intellect. We pay $90+/month for HughesNet simply because where we live, there are no alternatives other than dial-up. Sadly enough, I don’t know when we have been so disappointed with a service provider of any kind.

  4. I did leave a message on Twitter support. And all I get from Twitter support are emails saying “***This is most likely your issue*** I’m Not Appearing in the Find People Search
    read more about this here” Obviously support is not even reading what my problem is, as that is certainly not it.

    I have hughesnet in Louisiana EVERY TIME I have ever tried to use twitter search, I just get the same error code. I have tried in both Firefox and IE for months.

  5. I’ve been using Hughes net for a couple of years and have the exact same error on the twitter search page. Instant messaging works fine, so I don’t see why twitter wont work… Anyways Hughes net is a terrible service and I’m switching ASAP.

  6. Same problem been with hughesnet for years as it is my only option. No twitter search have even messed with internal modem settings. It has something to do with the NOC. Hughes Net is horrible and if you can avoid it you should do just that. Tech support reads off of a screen and as one poster mentioned treats you like you know absolutely nothing. They never stop to think that maybe their users actually do know more than they do. I always ask to be escalated to the next level or a suprevisor immediately. I cant every get through to the idiots on the phone. No twitter search for me and it blows.

  7. The proxy trick described at the top sorta works for me; here’s my setup:
    Mac OS X 10.5.7
    using the Tweetie client app for Twitter
    In System Prefs | Network I set the active network connection (e.g. Airport) to use Web Proxy (HTTP) = port 3128

    Downside is that it confuses (RSS Reader) NetNewsReader, and I can’t get updates with it as long as the proxy is on. But, Twitter searches in Tweetie do work when the proxy is enabled.

  8. I have been using Hughes Net.. I can reach twitter but have not been able to view Tech support is of no help. I did find out via one low level tech person that he can switch the block off the server they have and I could view the redbubble site.. So that tells me that they choose which sites they don’t like because of the amount of bandwidth it takes.. I was blocked again soon after and tech support could not tell me anything about the low level tech person who un blocked the site for me.. I store photos there and share about them too.. I sure do miss the site.. Hughes Net is like Wild Blue service but Wild Blue does not block the site.. But they can’t take on anymore customers.. My Luck.. Anyone find a fix let me know..

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