Twitter hit by disruption, bug zaps followers

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - 09:53

Washington: Twitter was bitten by a bug
that caused users of the fast-growing micro-blogging service
to temporarily lose the list of followers of their accounts.

"We identified and resolved a bug that permitted a
user to `force` other users to follow them," Twitter said.

"We`re now working to roll back all abuse of the bug
that took place," the San Francisco-based start-up said in a
blog post.

Earlier yesterday, popular technology blog Gizmodo
published details about the bug explaining to Twitter users
how they could force any other user to follow their account.

"Follow this dead-simple guide to force any Twitter
user -- from Oprah (Winfrey) to (Ashton) Kutcher -- to follow
you. No, seriously," said, which was also in the
news last month after it obtained and published details about
the latest iPhone prototype from Apple.

Talk show host Winfrey has 3.5 million followers and
follows 426 people while Hollywood star Kutcher has 4.8
million followers and follows 732 people.

Twitter`s efforts to close the hole briefly left a
number of users -- including Kutcher -- with zero followers
although the delivery of messages did not appear to have been

The Twitter account of technology blog,
for example, went from 1.4 million followers to zero.

Gizmodo said the bug was discovered by a Turkish
Twitter user who "figured out accidently that if you tweet
`accept username,` for example billgates, then Bill Gates will
follow you."

"For hours, thousands of people were able to take
control of other people`s Twitter accounts with a trick so
easy that even the newest Twitterer could execute it," Gizmodo

Twitter, which allows users to pepper their followers
with messages of 140 characters or less, said last month that
it has topped 105 million registered users and is adding
300,000 new accounts a day.

The follower bug led to a flood of jokes on Twitter
about the problem.

"Today`s Twitter follow count crash is like last
week`s Stock Market crash, but bruising millions of egos
`stead of losing millions of dollars," Xeni Jardin, co-editor
of, said in a "tweet." (AFP)

First Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - 09:53

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