Twitter zaps bug by wiping out followers

Jeff Bertolucci
11 May, 2010
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Twitter users had a big shock overnight when they checked into the micro-blogging service. Their follower and following numbers were at 0, meaning they were suddenly very unpopular or something was seriously wrong with the site.

It was the latter, of course. To kill a bug that allowed a user to force other users to follow him or her, Twitter temporarily reset all follower/following counts to zero, according to the Twitter Status blog. Everything is now back to normal.

“We identified and resolved a bug that permitted a user to ‘force’ other users to follow them. We’re now working to rollback all abuse of the bug that took place,” the company said.

The glitch didn’t cause protected (private) updates to become public, according to Twitter, which did not report the number of users impacted by the bug.

According to tech blog Gizmodo, the security hole allowed users to get any fellow Tweeter — even famous folk with “Verified Accounts” — to follow them.

Using Twitter’s web interface, you could have tweeted “accept conanobrien” (that’s Gizmodo’s example, but any username would have worked), waited a few moments, and then checked your list of followers.

Voilà! Another fan of your clever 140-character observations. Well, that is, until Twitter killed the bug.

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