Vine, Twitter’s New Video-Sharing App, Gets Tangled Up on Launch Day

Published on January 24, 2013
by Mike Isaac

vine_tylerUpdated at 1:10 PDT with additional information from Twitter.

Sorry, Twitter — not every new product debut can go swimmingly.

Vine, Twitter’s video sharing app which launched officially on Thursday morning, ran into a few snags directly out of the gate, including some potential crossed-log-in issues that could affect user privacy.

Vine user Keith Whamond reached out to AllThingsD directly, telling us he was logged into another user’s account inadvertently. The small, slightly annoying part: Whamond could potentially post to Vine as the other user he was logged in as — one Tyler Petersen.

Additionally, a number of Vine users reported activity being posted to their accounts by people other than themselves. “[S]omeone else has posted from St. Louis using the @poptip handle (not us) — crossing users?” wrote Poptip founder Kelsey Falter in a tweet on Thursday.

There’s a larger problem here, however. As Whamond was erroneously logged into Petersen’s account, Whamond was able to view Petersen’s private contact details — including email and phone number — inside the settings menu. If this were happening on a larger scale that’s a gnarly breach of user privacy.

As of Thursday morning, it’s unclear how many users are experiencing the switched accounts issue. And for what it’s worth, Whamond told me that he was able to log out of Petersen’s profile and back into his own after re-launching the application.

As many may have already noticed, only hours after launch, Vine has disabled sharing videos from the app to Facebook and Twitter. And a number of users are reporting that they are no longer able to sign into the service through their Twitter account.

As for the switched accounts problem, a Twitter spokesperson told me that the team is currently looking into the issue. And to Twitter’s credit, the Vine team has acted fast in jumping on the account issues.

Update: Okay, here’s the deal. After chatting with a Twitter spokesperson, I’ve got the issue narrowed down a bit. It looks like a server-side bug, amounting to a bunch of crossed wires in user accounts. Your Twitter account, Facebook account, email account or any of those passwords weren’t accessible through the bug. But if affected by the bug, clicking through the app could sometimes land you on a randomized user page that wasn’t your own. And if one of those clicks was you sharing your Vine video, that could have been posted to another user’s Vine account.

What you are not able to do is assume someone else’s identity intentionally. If you found yourself looking at another user’s information, a quick reload of the page, would take you back to your own account.

It’s still not clear how many users were affected, or if it’s completely taken care of at this point. But as of 1:20 pm PDT, Vine sharing via Facebook and Twitter is back up and running, and I haven’t seen or heard any more user complaints about the issue.

Still, it’s a bummer of a way to kick off a new product launch, especially one that many are calling “the future of Twitter’s video efforts.” Disabling sharing through Twitter and Facebook on Day One could certainly dampen the app’s initial reception, not to mention limit the potential viral spread of the new service.

Better luck tomorrow, Twitter.

(For good measure, I’m embedding my first Vine video using the service. Say hello to my dogs.)

And here’s our own Lauren Goode discussing the issue on The Wall Street Journal’s Digits show:

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