It recently emerged online that Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool has a bug in its system; when a user would attempt an exact match search on certain terms, the volume reported always turned out to be zero.

While a spokesperson has already confirmed that Google is aware of the bug, the bug was actually raised on SEO’s consult blog (“The Google Adwords Keyword Tool seems to have the winter blues” quipped the blogger).

It is interesting to note that lately the general public is being made aware of software bugs by various social media outlets: Facebook was notified of its bugs on the iPad app by an army of disgruntled tweeters, whilst online users found out about the Galaxy Nexus’ so-called SAV-Ghost thanks to a YouTube video showcasing the smartphone’s volume-regulating glitch.

Would it be reasonable to suggest that social media users are rapidly becoming a dependable crowd of third party testers? I believe so.

It is hard for in-house teams of testers and developers to uncover all of their own bugs because they are too close to the software. Bugs are often uncovered when software is used in a different way to planned, which is where the users come in.

Users are now taking advantage of the wide reach of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs so that consumers and companies can be alerted of faulty software within days or even hours of its distribution.

The goal of companies like Google is to release good quality products. While some might think the online flak is bad publicity, we should appreciate social media for its ability to raise awareness of faulty software in very short time frames.

Yet though an effective a tool social media may be, it would be ideal for companies to get the same kind of feedback before the release of their product. A number of executives are now turning to crowd-sourced testing as a solution, which is akin to employing a friendly team of social media users to do test work on upcoming projects.