Red faces at Twitter
The reputation of Twitter was tarnished yesterday when a major bug temporarily allowed users to force people to follow them.
On Monday, May 10th 2010, a flaw was uncovered that undermined the social media site's system of connecting with other users. Twitter account holders who typed "accept" followed by a Twitter username were automatically followed by the other person; tweets sent by the account holder also appeared in the newsfeed of their targets. Many people took advantage of the bug to get followed by celebrities such as @stephenfry, @britneyspears and @jimmycarr.
Twitter bug tackled
Once news of the hack emerged, Twitter engineers moved in to rectify the problem. The company posted a brief unattributed message on the official Twitter Status blog, saying, "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."
As part of the reset, it briefly appeared that Twitter users had lost all of their followers as well as everybody they were following. But the company now seems to have resolved this issue, and follower and following lists have returned to their original states. Those still receiving updates from unwanted people are advised to use the unfollow or block buttons onsite.
The bug will have concerned the growing number of social media marketing professionals who rely on Twitter accounts to raise brand awareness. Dell, Kodak, Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, Ford, Honda, Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC are among the companies with high-profile official Twitter posters.