“My Twifficiency score is ?% What’s yours?” – In the space of one hour Tweets like this became a viral phenomena yesterday. Then followed all the tweets of complaints as users accounts started to tweet without permission.
The website claims that: “Twifficiency calculates your Twitter efficiency based upon your Twitter activity. Including how many people you follow, how many people follow you, how often you tweet and how many tweets you read.” Similar applications in the past have become popular as people like to compete and compare their scores.
This time, however there is no obvious notification that the service would auto-tweet your Twifficiency score. The app uses Twitter’s secure oAuth method to log you in and Twitter’s standard-issue warning that the app wants the ability to “Access and update” your Twitter account.
According to the 17 year old Scottish web developer James Cunningham he had developed the app to learn how oAuth worked. He was apparently unaware of the viral capabilities of his app
“OK. Twifficiency shouldn’t tweet your score automatically :/ Error on my behalf, I was just learning to use oAuth Up until now I had always used Basic Auth, and Twifficiency was my way to learn how to use oAuth.”
He has endeavored to improve the app with a clearer warning and an option for tweeting, however one individual had already set up a NSFW spoof Twitter account for him, which to say the least is not very polite – read if you dare!
Oh dear – the teenager got more than he bargained for and by all accounts he is simply a talented geek. Paul Clarke, who knows Cunningham, says:
“Sure, James broke one of the Twitter etiquette rules (not tweeting from someone’s account without explicitly seeking consent). But this is the guy that created a Wolfram-type search demonstrator in just one week. At age 17. And within ten days created another innovative service out of the blue. And has probably done dozens more. I think we can regard his social network capital as firmly in the black, can’t we?”
So however annoying he was he didn’t mean it, he has now become famous overnight so thing have probably turned out ok for him in the end, apparently there may even be a job in the pipeline for him!!
NOTE: As a general safety tip, it’s always good practice to keep an eye on the Twitter apps you’ve approved. Simply go to your Twitter settings and revoke access to those you don’t use any more.