Twitter fixes ‘force to follow’ bug

11 May 2010

Twitter has fixed a major flaw that saw many users of the service lose all their friends and followers. A flaw appeared that allowed people to force others to ‘follow’ them on Twitter.

The flaw emerged when it was discovered that people who typed ‘accept’ followed by a person’s Twitter name forced the user to be added to their list of users.

The hack spread like wildfire as people then used it to force celebrities to follow them and the fear is spammers have been able to hack thousands of accounts.

In closing the loophole, Twitter was forced to temporarily reset many accounts and this made it look like longstanding users had no followers.

“We identified and resolved a bug that permitted a user to ‘force’ other users to follow them,” Twitter said in a status blog. “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.

“We’ve finished our cleanup of the spurious followings generated as a result of this bug. If you are still seeing folks you are following who you didn’t choose to follow, please use the block or unfollow tools to remedy,” Twitter said.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years