Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
AOL Tech

Teen Creates 'Twifficiency' App, Endures Twitter's Misguided Wrath

screenshot of twifficiency updates
Yesterday, a harmless teenager from the U.K. suddenly found himself under a flood of Twitter attacks -- all because of an app called 'Twifficiency.' "Twifficiency calculates your Twitter efficiency based upon your Twitter activity," the service's site explains. "This includes how many people you follow, how many people follow you, how often you tweet and how many tweets you read." As with any other app that allows users to compare scores, Twifficiency went viral pretty quickly, and even landed a spot among yesterday's top trending topics.

What users didn't realize, though, was that the app would automatically update their statuses to display their twifficiency score, along with a link to the website. Even Google exec Marissa Mayer got duped, while revealing a 0-percent Twifficiency score. Not surprisingly, more than a few users began sounding the alarms about what they suspected to be a scam in app's clothing, and some began viciously targeting the app's developer, 17-year-old James Cunningham.

Cunningham, however, is far from your average scam artist. As he quickly explained on his Twitter account, he'd only created Twifficiency to better understand Twitter's OAuth authorization system. "OK. Twifficiency shouldn't tweet your score automatically... Error on my behalf, I was just learning to use OAuth," he tweeted. The whiz kid later told WelcomeBrand that he was "saddened by the harsh criticism" he had received, and that he "hadn't intended for anything bad to come of Twifficiency." As Geekosystem points out, Twifficiency isn't even a new app; Cunningham says he developed it a few months ago, and never had any negative feedback about the service's auto-tweet feature. "One of my friend [sic] even said 'Thanks it saved me a tweet, I was about the [sic] tweet those exact same words'," he explains.

What's lost in this mini-saga, though, is the fact that Cunningham has proven himself to be something of a Twitter wunderkind. "Sure, James broke one of the Twitter etiquette rules (not tweeting from someone's account without explicitly seeking consent)," writes U.K. Twitter user Paul Clarke. "But this is the guy that created a Wolfram-type search demonstrator in just one week. At age 17. And within ten days created another innovative service out of the blue. And has probably done dozens more. I think we can regard his social network capital as firmly in the black, can't we?" [From: TheNextWeb and WelcomeBrand, via: Geekosystem]

Tags: app, apps, developer, developers, JamesCunningham, oauth, scam, Scams, SocialNetworking, teen, teens, top, twifficiency, twitter, TwitterScam