Followers Vanish as Twitter Squashes Bug

By Helen A.S. Popkin
|  Monday, May 10, 2010  |  Updated 5:47 PM EDT
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Followers Vanish as Twitter Squashes Bug

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Earlier Monday, the microblogging network was beset by a bug that allowed anyone to force other Twitter users to follow his or her account.

The Twitpocolypse is upon us! Earlier today, as the microblogging site attempted to fix an embarrassing bug, follower lists suddenly disappeared. As the Twitterverse panicked and "Follower 0" rose to the top of it's trending list, Twitter assured its users via the company's own Twitter feed that the issue would be rapidly remedied.

“Follow count display is set to 0 and follow/unfollow is temporarily offline while we fix a bug,” Twitter’s own Twitter account reported at 1:02 p.m., confirming that everyone, from Ashton Kutcher to Justin Bieber bloggers, was affected.

Earlier Monday, the microblogging network was beset by a bug that allowed anyone to force other Twitter users to follow his or her account. Social network news site Mashable reported that one alert reader e-mailed the details of the glitch Monday morning, writing “[tweet] accept [username]” then the [username] immediately starts following you.”

Tech blog Gizmodo noted that the auto-follow was exploitable in Twitter's Web interface, not on third-party apps. The blog also posted instructions: “Follow this dead-simple guide to force any Twitter user — from Oprah to Kutcher — to follow you. No, seriously.”

Notably Conan O’Brien, who famously follows only one person, appeared to follow 194 people earlier Monday.

Open season on follower-poaching was shortlived however, as Twitter worked to remedy the problem, posting this at 10:19 a.m. PT: "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 has posted on its status blog.”

This will no doubt come as great relief to Twit-celebs such as “Weird” Al Yankovic, who posted this bit of satirical self-doubt :” Was my last tweet that offensive? Looks like I've lost every single one of my followers.”

By 2:15 p.m. ET, follower lists were restored.

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