17-Year Old Twitter Spammer Scores Facebook CEO as New Friend

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is following the tweets of James Cunningham, the 17-year-old developer from Scotland who took a place in Twitter’s trending topics today with a basic app that auto-tweeted about itself from users’ accounts. And Cunningham is following Zuck back.

Time already has a post speculating, “Twifficiency, By James Cunningham: Better Than A College Diploma?” linking to this tweet from a UK-based marketer expressing admiration for the young developer despite the fact that it was a flaw that made the Twifficiency app go viral.

Zuckerberg has not tweeted since March 2009, but Cunningham is one of his most recent follows.


A defense calling Cunningham “highly talented” was posted by Paul Clarke, a well-known blogger.

Zuckerberg did not appear to have used the Twifficiency app, which calculates “twitter efficiency” based on “how many people you follow, how many people follow you, how often you tweet and how many tweets you read.” The app left many Twitter users feeling exposed when it auto-tweeted their scores regardless of whether they had checked “post my results to Twitter.”

Even Google executive Marissa Mayer was caught when Twifficiency embarrassingly tweeted her score of 0.

The app caused widespread alarm when it auto-tweeted without permission, apparently an accident. The spammy app was Cunningham’s attempt to learn how to use OAuth, Twitter’s new authentication protocol, he said in a tweet.

Users worried about Twifficiency do not need to change their passwords because OAuth gives apps limited access without exposing your password.

So is a job at Facebook in the cards for young Cunningham? More likely that Zuck empathizes with a fellow hacker who became the target of public ire.

Hat tip to Twitter’s new “followed by” feature.

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