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Twitter Bug Fix Causes Followers to Vanish Temporarily

By Nicole Bode | May 10, 2010 2:24pm
Bonnie Fuller reacted to the news with typical Twitter enthusiasm.
Bonnie Fuller reacted to the news with typical Twitter enthusiasm.
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By Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Senior Editor


The popular social networking site temporarily stripped all users of their coveted follower lists on Monday — sending everyone back down to zero followers — after users reportedly discovered a bug that let them add followers without their consent.

The so-called "follow bug" wreaked havoc on the site, allowing users to artificially expand their list of followers and post updates to other people’s feed without permission, according to reports.

Among the Twitter users affected by the bug was Conan O’Brien, who went from famously following just one user to following close to 200, Mashable.com reported.

The bug was reportedly exposed by the online tech site Gizmodo.com, which called attention to the gaping hole in Twitter protocol with the blog, “How to Force Anyone to Follow You on Twitter.”

The simple hack allowed users to type the word “accept” followed by any Twitter user's handle, and that user would automatically be registered as a follower, Gizmodo said.

Twitter acknowledged the problem and said that no private updates were exposed as a result.

“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 wrote in a statement Monday.

"Follower/following numbers are currently at 0; we’re aware and this too should shortly be resolved."

Though everyone's followers were restored by 2 p.m., word of the reset came as devastating news to notorious over-sharers and celebs alike, and spawned the hash-tag "#TheDayTwitterExploded."

“The Twitterverse has been EQUALIZED!” media maven and uber-tweeter Bonnie Fuller wrote in the middle of the chaos on Monday, “We're all on a level playing field now! Ashton, CNN, Mrs Kutcher, Obama, Jess Simpson- it's a do-over!”

"Twitter exploded today!" O'Brien tweeted. "I guess my dream of a world where Twitter runs our stock market, phones, and nuclear defense is still a ways off."