Inflated Tweet Count: it’s not about the numbers, dude

Last Updated on 10 February 2010 by gerry

On 25 Jan 2010, Twitter Support Team confirmed that some Twitter users had experienced an approximately three-fold increase in their Tweet Count; i.e. the number of 140 character posts they have submitted to Twitter.

As it happens, I myself am an Inflated Tweet Count Syndrome sufferer. I think my tweet count went from 3600-ish to 9600-ish overnight. To be honest, I don’t give two (or six) hoots about the numbers, but there are many on Twitter who are much more numbers-obsessed than me, so it’s an issue that’s causing ripples of irritation across the Twitter user-base.

Karen from GOAL posts tweet no. 50,000 for @mcawilliams
Karen from GOAL posts tweet no. 50,000 for @mcawilliams
Many users do keep an eye on their tweet count and treat milestone tweets as special events. Honourable mention here is due to the example of @mcawilliams who raised money for Haiti in the run-up to his 50,000th tweet. He invited a representative from Irish charity GOAL to post tweet no. 50,000 on his behalf. I note that John’s tweet count has now also succumbed to the hyper-inflation that’s going round…either that or he has passed milestones 100,000 and 150,000 in superhuman time.

The thing that irks me about this whole thing isn’t the faulty counts themselves but the low-priority status Twitter are giving to the problem:

UPDATE: 02/02/10
– This bug is a low priority issue because it does not prevent users from fully using Twitter. We do not expect to have this issue fixed in the immediate future for this reason. Please leave a comment below if you are affected by this issue. Thank you!

I did a quick tallly of the comments posted at this stage and reckoned already over 1000 users have gone to the bother of seeking out this help forum page to post their details. As a software developer specialising in database applications, I’m curious to know the root cause of Inflated Tweet Count Syndrome. I suspect we’ll never find that out. Indeed if the solution isn’t an easy one, we may never see it fixed. The circumstances are different, but the outcome might be the same as the #fixreplies lost cause.

If we can’t trust this bit of Twitter data, surely it chips away at the integrity of all of the data. Anyone who has tried the Twitter search facility may perceive that tweets have a very short shelf life. It’s hard to use Twitter search to find anything more than a few days old or so. Is this down to programmatic issues or business model, I wonder.

Are you a sufferer of Inflated Tweet Count Syndrome? What was your reaction? Do you think it will get fixed eventually? Do you care?

Update 9 Feb 2010
I see that Twitter has now recognised that this is affecting many more users than they first suspected and have raised the priority of this issue.

UPDATE: 02/05/10 – A higher number of accounts are affected by this bug than we previously guessed. This problem is now important and have engineers currently working on resolving the improper tweet counts. We expect to have a fix released relatively soon.

…that’s dated 5 Feb 2010 of course

My perception is that the vast majority of long-standing active Twitter users have been affected by the Inflated Tweet Count issue.

Update 10 Feb 2010
Twitter has fixed the problem. All around people breathe more easily as the weight of all those non-existent tweets is lifted off them.

2/09/10 – A fix should be released within the next day or so. Thanks for your patience!

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