For the past eleven hours, “My Twifficiency score” has been one of the top trending topics on Twitter — although many of the people who made it popular didn’t know what they were doing. Basically, Twifficiency is a service that claims to “calculates your twitter efficiency based upon your twitter activity.” In order to do this, it requires oAuth authentication to get into your data. However — and here’s the part that’s pissed many people off today — once you authorize Twifficiency to rummage through your Tweets, it takes the liberty of Tweeting out “My Twifficiency score is __%. Whats yours?” with a link to the Twifficiency website, whether you want it to or not.
Before you sharpen your pitchforks, be aware that the programmer behind Twifficiency is a 17-year-old named James Cunningham, who claims to have built the app to teach himself about oAuth, with no intention of its going viral:
Error though it may have been, this caused Twifficiency to skyrocket in popularity, since everyone who used it exposed their entire social circle to it and so on, the very definition of ‘viral.’ Oddly enough, it wasn’t a new app: Cunningham claims to have programmed it months ago, with it getting “only a few uses by random people” up until this morning, when he found hundreds of messages directed at him. And not all were positive, as he relates to Welcomebrand:
At first I was saddened by the harsh criticism because I hadn’t intended for anything bad to come of Twifficiency, I hadn’t thought “What if 500,000 people suddenly use this and their timelines become filled with my messages” because I never thought it would get that far, and the first couple of months showed that and the people who had used it did not seem at all bothered by the auto-tweet, one of my friend even said “Thanks it saved me a tweet, I was about the tweet those exact same words.”
One widely circulated (but inaccurate) message had it that Twifficiency “is a hack attempt and will wipe your hard drive clean in 12 hours.” If this was the case, Cunningham would truly be a master hacker. Even ransacking your Twitter account would be a feat, since oAuth doesn’t give usernames and passwords over to app developers.
Still, the saga highlights the importance of keeping close watch on your Twitter settings. You can see what applications you’re giving access to and shut out the ones you no longer need at https://twitter.com/settings/connections.