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BREAKING NEWS: Twitter Hacked

Something VERY odd is going on at Twitter right now. A user called JehovahOne created an account about two hours ago. Nothing strange there, BUT in those two hours JehovahOne has added over 2,550 friends!  That number appears to be increasing by about 20 per minute. If a two hour old account with one tweet and no picture adding 20 friends a minute isn’t a hack, I don’t know what is! (Apparently I don’t know what is – see updates below)_ Worse still, many people seem to be on auto-pilot and are following JehovahOne simply because they’re returning the favour – friending a new friend back. 200+ followers as I post this! I’ll do updates if/as I learn more. Add a comment letting me know if you received the friend message.


Update 1: An hour later we have 3,242 friends and 242 followers.

Update 2: A few people have commented here and at Digg that this is a ‘bot rather than a hack. I guess that’s correct but I meant it in a broader sense as in someone’s found a way to use Twitter that will be perceived as a hack by many. By this I mean 3200 people now have a friend message in their inbox. Not bad on it’s own but if this becomes rampant a big mess for Twitter.

Update 3: Looks like this is being driven by a script that’s taking names from the Public Timeline at Twitter. I checked about a hundred of JehovahOne’s “Friends” and all of them have posted in the last five hours (i.e. one hour before the user account was created). The Timeline updates every four minutes with the 20 most recent posts. Looks like anyone whose posts get there will get an invite.

Update 4: Now that it’s been four hours since the account was set up the number of friends went DOWN from where it was after 3 hours. Not sure how friends would go down other than the user starting to remove people. I don’t think you can shake someone who’s following you on Twitter – or can you? I’m about to call it quits. Interesting watching this happen in real time.


  1. alej744
    alej744 April 14, 2007

    Fuckin’ genius.

  2. Peppery
    Peppery April 14, 2007

    I think this article is wrong. It looks to me like this is a bot who is going around following everybody (he’s following me) and people are either following it back as a gesture of good will or clicking the “befriend all” button.

  3. bunnyhero
    bunnyhero April 14, 2007

    i wouldn’t call that a hack, imho. just abuse by a bot.

  4. draceena
    draceena April 14, 2007

    Yeah, just after your message on Twitter I checked my pannel and he’s on my list as a follower.

  5. SubWolf
    SubWolf April 14, 2007

    Careful with the definition of ‘hacked’. It wouldn’t be hard to script a bot to read the public timeline and add every user it sees, it only has to do a curl ping to the right address to add another friend.
    It’s becoming time for Twitter to add more security measures.

  6. bunnyhero
    bunnyhero April 14, 2007

    whether a “hack” or not, i agree that bot abuse on twitter is something to worry about.
    witness the stationripper spam on the public timeline, for example. as far as i can tell, the stationripper client posts a twitter update to the stationripper user account whenever a song is ripped. and based on the rate of postings, it seems that ALL clients are posting to the same account? which seems a little weird (one would think that it should post to an individual user’s account, not to a single shared twitter). i could be wrong though.

  7. Eden Spodek
    Eden Spodek April 14, 2007

    Fortunately, I haven’t been “approached” by JehovahOne – at least not yet. Thanks for keeping us posted, even late on a Friday (or Saturday) night.

  8. Type-o
    Type-o April 30, 2007

    stationripper actually posts to each users account – i’ve been using it for years, and just started using it to update twitter with what I’m recording.

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