Do you remember when Twitter stopped limiting the number of usernames you could tag in a post and suddenly for a few days people started tagging dozens of users at once just to be annoying? Well, if people start duplicating this hack, it will make your timeline a hell of a lot worse than that.
Image Source: Twitter
On November 4, Twitter user Timrasett sent out a tweet that was 35,000 characters long. Yes, while people are either clamouring to be included in the 280-character limit club or bemoaning Twitter’s choice to double the potential length of a tweet, it appears there’s a loophole that will allow you to ruin the flow of peoples’ timelines in a big way.
Timrasett worked with another user going by HackneyYT to break Twitter’s character limit with a message that begins “People! @Timrasett and @HackneyYT can exceed the character limit! You do not believe us? Here’s about 35k characters proof.” (Translated from German via Google.) After that, thousands of characters of seeming nonsense appear. At least part of the trick is that the nonsense is formatted as a URL. Partially through the long tweet, you’ll find the characters “.cc/tsyau…” and then it continues going with more randomness.
It isn’t totally clear why this method got past Twitter’s automatic link shortening tools, but the tweet was treated just the same as if it were sending out a standard, reasonably-sized URL. Both users were briefly suspended and the tweet has been deleted. Thankfully, the Internet Archive picked it up – just in case the people from Guinness decide this might count as the longest tweet ever recorded.
Hey! Sorry for the crashes. We just wanted to show that Twitter is easy to crack.
— Timrasett ???? (@Timrasett) November 5, 2017
A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed that the company has made changes to prevent this from happening again, and responded to our request for comment with the following message:
To promote a stable and secure environment on Twitter, you may not do, or attempt to do, any of the following while accessing or using Twitter:
Access, tamper with, or use non-public areas of Twitter, Twitter’s computer systems, or the technical delivery systems of Twitter’s providers (except as expressly permitted by the Twitter Bug Bounty program).
Probe, scan, or test the vulnerability of any system or network, or breach or circumvent any security or authentication measures (except as expressly permitted by the Twitter Bug Bounty program).
Interfere with or disrupt the access of any user, host or network, including, without limitation, sending a virus, overloading, flooding, spamming, mail-bombing Twitter’s services, or by scripting the creation of content in such a manner as to interfere with or create an undue burden on Twitter
When we simply tried tweeting the same message, it now goes slightly over the character limit. Take out a few characters and hit tweet and it gives you this message, “Your Tweet was over 140 characters. You’ll have to be more clever.”
For all of you monsters out there who actually want the new 280 character limit, you now have an even more ambitious goal.