Twitter quick to address password issues but still dragging heels on abuse

Social network has reacted fast to internal glitch that made passwords visible to staff

It was red faces all round at Twitter on Thursday when it had to ask its 330 million users to change their passwords. That the incident occurred on what was World Password Day only made things worse.

In fairness though, Twitter, which has come in for plenty of criticism over its failure to deal with abuse on its platform in recent times, was quick off the mark in alerting the public to a glitch that caused some passwords to be stored in readable text on its internal computer system.

Typically, the social network uses technology that masks passwords so that no one else can see them. But its tech team belatedly discovered a bug that could have revealed all.

The disclosure came as regulators around the world scrutinise the way companies store and secure consumer data, after a string of security incidents involving the likes of Equifax, Facebook and Uber.


In a blog post and series of tweets, Twitter disclosed the problem, rectified it and revealed that an internal investigation had found no indication of breach or misuse of passwords.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you consider changing your password,” it said in an email sent to users.

This was certainly better advice than that proffered by Nutella, which marked World Password Day by suggesting that lovers of the spread protect themselves online by “choosing a word that’s already in your heart. Like ‘Nutella’, for example!”

Unsurprisingly, the company came under fire for encouraging the public to opt for a password that could be easily discovered with The Next Web (TNW) going so far as to call it “the worst security advice ever”.

Still, while it was good to see Twitter reacting so quickly to the password problem, it only goes to highlight just how fast it can react when it wants. This makes the slowness with which the social network has addressed issues of online abuse all the more depressing.