Everyone who has used Twitter’s video-sharing application Vine would have seen some really creative and fun clips on it. This one, though, takes the cake with the icing and the candles. A teenager managed to “break” Vine’s six-second video limit and RickRolled the service.
Will Smidlein, a 16-year-old web developer, ended up uploading Rick Astley’s classic “Never Gonna Give You Up”, all in its three-and-a-half minute glory on Vine. While Smidlein found it funny and did it for the guffaws, the video on Vine became a nightmare for the service’s engineers, right on Vine’s big day, when it finally released an Android app.
Even as the Vine went viral, Twitter’s engineers started to have troubles with the video that “broke” Vine. An engineer from the micro-blogging website sent a direct message to Smidlien, requesting him to take the video down. “When a big engineer at Twitter asks you to take something down, you take it down,” Smidlein told The Verge. The damage was done, though. The post had gone viral and even as the video was removed, the team had to spend a while patching up the service.
Never gonna give you up…
So how did Smidlein actually manage to breach the six-second limit? The lad has developed for Android in the past and just as Vine hit Android, he decompiled the application. He managed to recreate portions of the service’s API that lets users create posts, add titles and attach thumbnail images. Smidlein then downloaded the Rick Astley video and posted it to the app’s servers, creating a never-ending, looped RickRoll.
While it’s the perfect prank, a remorseful Smidlein apologised to the engineers of Twitter and Vine. “Sorry, Twitter/Vine engineers. I tried to keep it quiet, but the internet never forgets,” he tweeted. He also added, “I truly feel awful for the engineers whose day I ruined with my stupid messing around.” He even refused to divulge how he managed to post the video till Vine was all patched up. Smidlein said that he would write a full postmortem of the prank eventually.
For those not in the know, a RickRoll is a meme that uses the Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up” It’s a bait-and-switch method, where a person will provide another with a seemingly innocuous hyperlink, often in the middle of a conversation. This link will direct you to the song instead of a relevant topic. If you get pranked this way, you’re supposed to have been RickRolled. The Vine prank was a brilliant one by RickRoll standards, although it’s slightly sad that the Vine engineers had to bear the brunt of it.