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 favor — 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.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 14, 2007.