Twitter

Mis-tweet-ment of users as Twitter resets passwords

Twitter reset “a large number” of its 140 million users passwords during a fault in routine security check.

The social-networking and micro-blogging site Twitter is usually the site of gaffes for its users. Celebrities and various users often becomes the subject of scandal after their “tweets” become targets of debate, attack or evidence of misconduct.

But the latest story is that Twitter itself has mistakenly reset what has been reported as “a large number” of user passwords. A significant number of people will have been affected by this as Twitter’s users top more than 140 million worldwide.

The accidental reset occurred during a routine security screening, which identifies accounts that may have been comprised. The website’s blog announced on Thursday that: "In instances when we believe an account may have been compromised, we reset the password and send an email letting the account owner know this has happened."

The official blog went on to say: "In this case, we unintentionally reset passwords of a larger number of accountshttps:/owa.exeter.ac.uk/owa/14.2.318.2/themes/resources/clear1x1.gif, beyond those that we believed to have been compromised."

Spokesperson for Twitter, Carolyn Penner, has declined to reveal how many Twitter accounts were affected by the error. Ms. Penner did, however, state that there had not been a security breach.

The social networking site has given no other information to users or the press on the source or cause of accounts being compromised and will not release details as to the size of the issue.

Some users who received the email from Twitter have noticed that some of their tweets have been deleted. Others have noticed spam links being posted without their knowledge. These occurrences are a typical characteristic of a compromised account.

Comedian and broadcaster David Mitchell, a regular Twitter user, tweeted that he had received the email and that a tweet he had written publicising his column in the Observer newspaper had been removed.

Further confusion was raised when users were under the impression that the official notification given by the website appeared as spam. These users criticised Twitter's email, suggesting it looked like a "phishing email" – the term given for a message that imitates an official email in an attempt to deceive recipients into giving up personal details.

The site has offered its apologies for inconveniences and confusions caused.

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