High School Student Takes Down Twitter's Vine With Rick Astley Video

Will Smidlein, 16, crashed the six-second video sharing app on Monday.

ByABC News
June 4, 2013, 1:07 PM

June 4, 2013— -- A 16-year-old evaded the six-second limit on Vine, Twitter's video-sharing service, after he successfully uploaded the full three-and-a-half minute music video of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" into a post that brought down the application on the day of its Android release.

"I think I broke Vine," Will Smidlein tweeted Monday.

Smidlein, a high school student and web developer who lives outside Cleveland, told ABC News he hadn't tried to bypass Vine's system, which allows users to create and share short, looping videos on Twitter and their mobile phones. Instead, he said he was only trying to test the application's limits.

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"It was ... just, my friends are posting six-second Vines," he said. "Let me be the guy that posts three-minute Vines."

Smidlein, who has been programming for a few years, said that to post the full Astley video he took apart Vine's Android application and reconstructed it so that he could communicate with the program's server.

But in the rebuilding process he left out the six-second validation, he said, which allowed him to post the video in full from a command line rather than from the Vine application itself.

Smidlein declined to comment further on the techniques he used until "the exploit is fully patched" but said the feat took him less than one hour to accomplish.

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As to why he chose the Rick Astley song that became an infamous Internet meme, Smidlein said it was merely a matter of what was available on his computer.

"I just had the Rickroll mp4 sitting around on my computer. I don't know why," he said. The file, he said, had the formatting needed to be accepted by the application programming interface."

Smidlein found a way to post Astley's music video to his Vine account but said he was having difficulty using the application after he posted. Not to mention that Twitter's systems were also experiencing problems, he said.

He found out that he'd succeeded, he said, when someone retweeted the video he'd posted from his account.

From there, he said, "it was no stopping it."

Smidlein, however, said he was later contacted by an acquaintance at Twitter engineering who asked him to take the Vine down.

"I said, 'Sure I'd be happy to,'" he said. "It's not the greatest thing for an error like that to be public."

Later, Vine removed the post in full.

It is unclear how long Smidlein's hack disabled the video-sharing service. When reached by ABC News, Twitter declined to comment.

"I truly feel awful for the engineers whose day I ruined with my stupid messing around," Smidlein tweeted.

But Smidlein said he was not the first to bring down the service.

The 16-year-old is wrapping up the school year before flying to San Francisco for a two-month summer internship at Pocket, an application that allows users to save online content to access later.

He said when his new employer heard about the crash, it reached out to congratulate him.