Are we in for a massive Twitpocalypse that will destroy the fabric of our fragile 140-character universe? Not likely, says the guy who originated the semi-hoax.
Martin Dufort, CEO of Canadian application developer Wherecloud, says he put up the fear-mongering Twitpocalypse.com page as "a viral marketing move." The page tongue-in-cheekily predicts that when the absolute number of Tweets hits 2,147,483,647 (the highest number a 32-bit signed integer variable can store), Twitter applications using the faulty variable type will be "very likely to malfunction or crash."
But actually Dufort started the page, mostly as a joke, after he found the weakness in his own software. He had no idea it would blow up into a case of Web hysteria.
When pressed for details about how widespread he thought the cataclysm would be, Dufort admitted, "We have no clue which other third-party apps are going to be affected." He noted that his company's own Twitter iPhone application -- or, more specifically, the bug in one third-party code library (MGTwitterEngine) that his application employed -- had been fixed months ago.
Dufort said his Twitpocalypse page, as well as the Wherecloud homepage, were seeing a heavy traffic spike. "The secondary hits are very good for us; in some sense, it's kind of a viral marketing move on our side."
He added that he found it very doubtful that many apps would be affected, particularly because the Twitter API development community has known about the problem for a while and has had plenty of time to make the small changes necessary to avoid the problem.
"Twitter will definitely be up tomorrow," Dufort said.
-- David Sarno