Twitter on Thursday took a bold step toward expanding its content offerings outside of its classic 140-character short-messages, launching a separate app, “Vine,” for the iPhone, which allows users to quickly create 6-second-long videos with audio and share them through Twitter itself and rival Facebook.
Within just a few hours after Vine’s launch in the Apple App Store, however, Twitter abruptly disabled the sharing ability.
“We’re temporarily disabling Twitter and Facebook sharing,” tweeted the official Vine account on Twitter. “It should be back soon. Thanks for your patience!”The move came shortly after another Twitter user, Kelsey Falter, alerted Vine to the fact that someone had posted a Vine video from her company PopTip’s account name.
“Someone else has posted from St. Louis using the @poptip handle (not us) — crossing users? cc/ @dickc,” Falter tweeted, roping in Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo.
Falter told TPM via email that the unauthorized post appeared only on Vine — not on Facebook or Twitter. Vine itself contains a social stream of all the recently posted videos, which users can elect to keep in the app and not share out to other social networks.
Check out some of the Vine videos that other users shared on Twitter before that option was disabled. To hear the sound, click the speaker icon in the left corner of the video (which un-mutes it):
— dick costolo (@dickc) January 23, 2013
Animal testing. vine.co/v/b5HpgZT3ZwL
— Mike Isaac (@MikeIsaac) January 24, 2013
Vine responded to Falter on Twitter shortly before pulling the plug, saying it was looking into the matter.
The events immediately raised the question of whether or not the Vine app could pose security concerns for social networking users, allowing others to claim established social media account names, or worse still, gain unauthorized access to users’ Twitter and Facebook accounts. Vine asks users to sign-in using either their Twitter accounts or email addresses.
Falter told TPM she wasn’t concerned.
“I’m not worried,” she said, noting that her own startup company, PopTip, “works extensively with the Twitter API and oAuth,” the latter of which is an open source authorization tool that allows users to sign into websites and web services using their pre-existing Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“If used correctly, credentials are secure,” Falter wrote. “I believe that Vine is taking the highest precautions to ensure security around Twitter and any other social credentials. They have been extremely responsive to the issue I posted on Twitter, and I trust that it will be handled immediately. This is probably just a minor glitch.”
Asked by TPM for a further explanation on what exactly the glitch was and whether or not the Vine app sharing features were disabled as a result of Falter’s observation, Twitter declined to comment and instead referred back to the tweet Vine made announcing the disabling.
It is common for new mobile apps and software to launch with bugs and glitches that are later fixed in subsequent updates. One prominent example was another iPhone app called Brewster, which launched in July 2012 promoting itself as a better way to organize a user’s various contact lists across social networks, only to suffer the embarrassment of accidentally exposing early celebrity backer Ashton Kutcher’s private contact information.
Apple’s own iOS mobile software updates for the iPhone and iPad routinely contain a variety of bug fixes to address issues in previous versions.
Still, the glitch that Vine suffered came at an especially inopportune time for Twitter and the Vine team, which began as a stand alone startup company and which Twitter was reported to have acquired in October 2012, well before the Vine app’s initial launch.
Twitter’s interest in Vine being a success is clear cut: The company wants people to spend more time using its social network across devices, and to share more multimedia content, which Twitter can then sell advertisements around. Video itself is among the fastest growing categories of content online, with some 188 million Internet users in the U.S. alone each watching an estimated average 19 hours of video online in the month of December 2012, according to online tracking firm comScore.
Twitter also appears to be emulating rival social network Facebook in releasing its first stand-alone app product. Facebook previously released stand alone versions of a Facebook Camera app, its Facebook Messenger service, and most recently, a redesigned version of its “Poke” feature as a separate app for sending timed messages. But Vine is unique in that Twitter has chosen not to brand it with the Twitter name just yet, and that it contains its own, separate social network component inside.