Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Why all your Twitter followers disappeared

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Twitter said Monday that it has identified a glitch that allows users to "force" other users to follow them.

As a result, users found that they temporarily had far fewer followers in their Twittersphere than usual -- most accounts showed 0 followers for an hour or so. However, logged-in users could still see activity from all those they follow by going to their Twitter home page.

The company quickly said it was working to solve the problem, which surfaced in posts from Gizmodo and other tech blogs drawing attention to the bug.

"We're now working to rollback all abuse of the bug that took place," Twitter said mid-afternoon on its blog. "Follower/following numbers are currently at zero; we're aware and this too should shortly be resolved."

Gizmodo received a tip about the bug from a Turkish Twitter user, whose account has since been suspended.

John Herrman, a tech reporter for the website, said Gizmodo receives hundreds of tips a day, many of which turn out to be "fairly ridiculous." But the magnitude of this one became clear after a few quick tests.

"It turned out that it was in fact a serious exploit," Herrman said. "It was working exactly as if the person was following you."

By 2:45 p.m. EST, the issue appeared to be resolved, but Twitter representatives did not respond to calls for comment.

Last week, Facebook reported a glitch that made some instant messages visible to a user's entire list of friends. But Twitter has been fairly immune to criticism about its privacy policies, Herrman said, since less personal information is used for the service.

Twitter said Monday that protected updates -- those users flagged to keep private -- "did not become public as a result of this bug."

Although the snafu is unlikely to have a long-term adverse effect on the company, it does reveal potentially serious weaknesses in Twitter's system, Herrman said. In the short term, the company will have to do some public relations work to appease users.

"This will be a black mark on its record in terms of privacy and will draw them into this [privacy] conversation, which now includes Facebook," said Herrman. To top of page

Search for Jobs

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 19,646.46 31.65 0.16%
Nasdaq 5,441.26 23.90 0.44%
S&P 500 2,252.27 6.08 0.27%
Treasuries 2.42 0.03 1.17%
Data as of 10:30am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 22.89 -0.06 -0.26%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 7.73 0.13 1.71%
Coca-Cola Co 41.96 0.98 2.38%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 15.88 0.28 1.76%
Apple Inc 113.47 1.35 1.20%
Data as of 10:15am ET
Sponsors

Sections

Ikea has renamed some of its best selling products after the most googled relationship questions. More

Trump says he sold all his stocks in June. But what about his hedge funds? He was (and may still be) invested in three run by John Paulson, a major campaign donor. More

Apple is investing in businesses run by China's largest wind-turbine maker -- but the move isn't part of any plan to build wind-powered gadgets. More