Skip to content
Naked Security Naked Security

Weirdo Twitter messages were a glitch, not a hack

Were you one of the dozens of people who got a bizarre Twitter message yesterday? It's OK. It wasn't a disturbance in the Matrix.

Were you one of the dozens of people who got a bizarre Twitter message yesterday?

The messages were a long string of what looked like random numbers and letters. They were so mystifying that even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself was like, whaaa?

Naturally enough, recipients assumed that the messages were the probably result of…

  1. A disturbance in the Matrix,
  2. The End of Days,
  3. Kanye West’s new password,
  4. What started as a coded mathematical declaration before the sender fell down the stairs,
  5. Encrypted messages from Numbers Stations whose senders forgot to include creepy-sounding chains of dispassionately enunciated letters or numbers, sometimes 24 hours a day, from high-powered shortwave transmitters, or
  6. Those darn hacking Russians.

It was, in fact, none of the above.

A few hours after Dorsey said he was looking into it, Twitter support explained it as a glitch in which the red bubbles that tell you “you’re getting a message” turned themselves into numbers and code:

You know those red bubbles that appear when you get notifications? Usually, you wouldn’t see this in numbers and code, but that’s how we talk to your phone so you get those notifications. It’s fixed, we’re good.

Twitter confirmed that the bug is now fixed.
It apparently only affected Apple devices that had Twitter alerts turned on. And, more particularly, those Apple devices whose Twitter accounts actually had people Tweet at them during the relevant time period.
Consider your Matrix undisturbed!


Bah. I liked this story better before I got to the end–and it still had the potential to tell me a conspiracy is afoot. An accident? I’m not buying it. Not when it could have been Russian hackers or a Dark Web Gang stalking my bank account.
Glitches and honest mistakes have no place in modern digital newsfeeds; much like a dispirited variant on the plot of a Keanu Reeves film, we require incessant news of blatant villainy to avoid stagnation.


I was thinking more of a Manchurian Candidate-type scenario.


Oh, the glitch itself, agreed.
I (sarcastically) meant that in our news feeds we need a constant stream of negative reporting on greed and trickery in the human condition. This story ends:
“when we thought it was haXX0rz it was just a goof.”
Nothing nefarious, just pretty much another example of Hanlon’s Razor.
[are those becoming an endangered species?]
Like the bus in Speed, we’re far too steeped in plentiful pessimism to handle a story with zero malicious elements. To stop now would be significantly more catastrophic than the far-more-likely-to-be-expected, typical bus crash ever could be.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to get the latest updates in your inbox.
Which categories are you interested in?
You’re now subscribed!