Twitter bug made private tweets public for years


Twitter has admitted it discovered a bug that made users' private tweets public.

Twitter’s disclosure of the issue explains how if you had a private Twitter profile, with the “Protect your Tweets” setting enabled, but then used the Twitter Android app and changed certain account settings (such as changing your email address), then the “Protect your Tweets” setting was disabled without alerting the user.

Any changes that Android app users made to their accounts between November 3 2014 and January 14 2019 could potentially have triggered this issue.

According to Twitter, it has contacted people who has been affected by the issue, and turned the privacy setting back on.

While the company has tried to contact everyone affected, if you have a private Twitter account, have used the Android app during that time and have not heard from Twitter, make sure you check your privacy settings straight away.

Breach of trust

While it’s commendable that Twitter has made this issue known and tried to fix it as soon as possible, it won’t be much comfort to anyone who’s private Tweets have been made public.

The fact that the issue has been active for so long is also concerning. As Twitter acknowledged, “We recognize and appreciate the trust you place in us, and are committed to earning that trust every day. We’re very sorry this happened and we’re conducting a full review to help prevent this from happening again.”

According to Twitter, the bug only affected users of the Android app, which is still a very large percentage of their users. People using the iOS app, or through a web browser on their PC or tablet, are not affected.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.