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Twitter bug makes users fear invasion of push notification ads

Flying too far from its perch, a promotional tweet makes it way uninvited to smartphone screens, likely because of a bug.

LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter doesn't deliver ads as push notifications, but a little bug is making some people worry that the information network, as it prepares for a public offering, is extending the reach of sponsored tweets from their timelines to their smartphones.

Friday, BuzzFeed writer John Herrman, after receiving a push notification for a promotional Dropbox tweet that he was not mentioned in, speculated that Twitter was moving into the realm of push notification ads in an effort to goose revenue prior to the IPO. Additional Twitter users complained of receiving similar tweets pushed to their smartphones without rhyme or reason.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo took it upon himself to assuage fears of an invasive advertising push, aptly using his service to say that the errant tweets were likely the result of a bug and that he would look into the matter. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment further on the matter.

On Thursday, Twitter announced -- with a tweet -- that it filed a confidential S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, marking the start of its road to becoming a public company. Twitter was able to skirt around the normal filing requirements of sharing financials thanks to a provision of the JOBS Act that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue to start the IPO process in secret.

Twitter is expected to earn $582.8 million in global ad revenue this year, according to eMarketer. Now that an IPO is pending, speculation abounds about how the mobile-adept company will boost revenue. At least for now, you can rest assured that uninvited promoted Tweets delivered via push notification are not part of the agenda. Still, a bug of this nature, which could quickly turn off users, is troubling for a company that is about to be thrust even further into the public spotlight and held to a higher standard.