Glitch in iOS Dictionary App Floods Twitter with Piracy Confessions

An anti-piracy mechanism designed to shame infringers failed miserably

Enfour, the Japanese maker of dictionary applications, came up with a not-so-clever way of discouraging users from pirating their iOS apps. Because of a glitch in the system, piracy confessions were automatically posted on the feeds of paying customers.

Normally, the apps have been designed to post the following message on behalf of customers who haven’t paid for them: “How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession.”

This “feature” was supposed to shame pirates. However, things didn’t go as planned and soon enough even paying customers started posting the message on their Twitter accounts.

After learning of the incident, the company issued an official apology letter, explaining that the decision was taken because of the large number of users who preferred to pirate their apps instead of purchasing them.

“We can't thwart truly determined hacker & crackers, but we wanted to possibly shame those who were opportunistically stealing our software. Just like installing a shop-lifting alarm in a store, we thought we were being creative with a notification and a timed tweet for users of a cracked app,” Enfour Vice President of Communications Tracey Northcott explained.

“In retrospect, this was not the wisest choice. The bug that revealed this creative indiscretion was a screwup and we accept full responsibility. We have tried to reach as many affected people as possible using social media via our personal accounts as well as via our website and also the iTunes store -all in multiple languages,” she added.

An update has been released to address the issue on November 1 – the day on which customers started seeing the piracy messages on their Twitter feeds –, but considering that around 20 messages are posted on Twitter each hour, it appears that there are still many users who haven’ applied it yet.

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