Teen unleashes computer worm on Twitter as site's popularity grows

A U.S. teenager unleashed a computer worm over the weekend, infecting many user accounts on Twitter.com, which has become a target for mischief-makers as its popularity grows.

An American teenager unleashed a computer worm over the weekend, infecting many user accounts on Twitter.com, which has become a target for mischief-makers as its popularity grows.

Michael "Mikeyy" Mooney, 17, confessed to BNONews.com that he was behind the self-replicating computer program, which was used to promote Twitter knockoff, StalkDaily.com.

The worm, which was designed to automatically reproduce itself once its links were clicked on, displayed unwanted messages on infected Twitter accounts that read, "Hey everyone, join StalkDaily.com. It's a site like Twitter but with pictures, videos and so much more."

But it didn't steal any personal information from the more than six million people with Twitter accounts, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in a Twitter posting about the worm. Nearly 10,000 Twitter messages, known as "tweets," had to be deleted to contain the potential damage, he said.

"We are still reviewing all the details, cleaning up and we remain alert," Stone reassured Twitter users.

Mooney told the Associated Press on Monday he wanted to promote his website and also to expose Twitter's weaknesses.

"I really didn't think it was going to get that much attention, but then I started to see all these stories about it and thought, 'Oh my God,'" said Mooney, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mooney began having second thoughts about what he had done after reading Stone's posting, which also stated that Twitter may pursue legal action against its tormentor. In a Monday email sent to the AP, Stone said he didn't know whether Twitter will go after Mooney.

The computer worm represents another rite of passage for San Francisco-based Twitter, which has emerged as a popular way to communicate on the web since its debut three years ago.

Twitter's site, which limits messages to 140 characters, is used to broadcast information by users that include ordinary people, celebrities and news agencies.

Its popularity makes it a target for mischief-makers and scam artists. Two of the internet's biggest online social networking groups, Facebook and MySpace, both have had to grapple with similar threats.

With files from the Associated Press