Microblogging giant Twitter said that it had fixed a bug that allowed users to “force” other users to follow them, although the fix included resetting many victims’ followers back to zero. “We’re now working to rollback all abuse of the bug that took place. Follower/following numbers are currently at 0; we’re aware and this too should shortly be resolved,” Twitter said in a company blog post Monday. Twitter said that protected updates were not compromised nor were publicly exposed as a result of the glitch.
Twitter recently became afflicted with a bug that successfully forced some celebrity tweeters such as Ashton Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg to follow a bogus Twitter account. The security glitch also allowed members to add on as many followers to their own accounts as they wanted by tweeting “accept” and then “@” followed by the Twitter user name of their choosing — including those of high profile celebrities.
Tech blog Gizmodo reported that the auto-follow glitch was only exploitable on the Twitter Website, not on third-party apps, but added instructions outlining how normal Twitter users could achieve celebrity-like followings. “Follow this dead-simple guide to force any Twitter user—from Oprah to Kutcher—to follow you. No, seriously,” said Gizmodo’s John Herman. “I have no idea how a hole this large could be left in a service as popular as Twitter, nor do I understand why it hasn’t been shut yet. What I do understand, though, is that Oprah is following me right now, and receiving my DMs.”
It’s yet unclear how long the bug has allowed users to create their own Twitter followings. And while Twitter administrators have already fixed the flaw, they now have to deal with a myriad of victims whose Twitter account followings are set back to zero. “Follow count display is set to 0 and follow/unfollow is temporarily offline while we fix a bug,” Twitter said earlier Monday.
The temporarily reset Twitter followings did raise consternation among some celebrities such as Kutcher and Justin Bieber, who thought their accounts had been hacked when their millions of Twitter fans suddenly disappeared.