On Saturday, a bug with a new Twitter URL-shortener shook the fabric of the universe, allowing tweets to go well over 140 characters if you were nerdy enough to a) be at home and online during the small window of time and b) get it to work. Scrambling on weekend hours, the good folks at Twitter — in a rush to preserve their 140 character dignity, the site’s central unique rule — stamped out the glitch in record time, leaving less lucky users to experience the madness only after the fact, in screenshots. Bummer? Blogging pioneer Dave Winer dubbed the extra-long messages “fat tweets.” It was fat while it lasted.
TechCrunch credits @sskhybrid for busting the 140 character cherry with a 2,135 character message. “Translated it seems to be a jumbled version of his experiences using Twitter,” according to the tech blog. It looks like art:
The problem seems to have stemmed from the new t.co URL-shortener, which allowed you to add a large chunk of text using http://twitter.com/share?text=&url=yourtext, assuming the “yourtext” portion was a URL to be condensed. For a moment, you could put what ever you wanted there, like “Howl” or the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” or the Genesis 1 from the Bible, which someone did. The fat tweets have since been deleted, switched to URLs that lead nowhere.
Dave Winer also has an explanation of how it worked, complete with this commentary:
6. Heh. 🙂
Heh, indeed. It’s fascinating the tiny things that can whip certain corners of the internet into a frenzy. Granted, the threshold is pretty low on a Saturday evening, but there is just something about breaking the rules. Maybe you’ll tell your grandchildren where you were when Twitter went > 140. Maybe your grandchildren will just be 3-D holograms dancing on your e-reader.