Microblogging service Twitter caused panic amongst its users this morning, after their account passwords were automatically reset and email notifications were sent out.
iTNews staffers were among those who received the force reset notification.
Many users and several media outlets jumped to the conclusion that Twitter had been hacked, but this turned out not to be the case.
Instead, Twitter said it reset the account passwords by mistake.
The official Twitter Status blog explained that resetting passwords and sending out emails to users whose account may have been compromised was done routinely, but added:
"In this case, we unintentionally reset passwords of a larger number of accounts, beyond those that we believed to have been compromised. We apologise for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused."
However, Twitter did not explain why it reset the account passwords, nor did it say how many were affected.
Some high-profile accounts were compromised, including the one used by TechCrunch. Twitter has not said how it happened or the number of accounts that were compromised.
The password resets set off alarm bells among foreign journalists in China covering the leadership transition at the Communist Party, who feared their accounts had been hacked.
Voice of America spoke to journalists and analysts in Beijing who said they and other China watchers received the messages as they tweeted about president Hu Jintao's speech at the 18th Communist Party Congress.
"I had someone else, a programmer, look at it and say, 'That's a legit message from Twitter'," the head of the China Media Project in Hong Kong, David Bandurski, said
"Beyond that I don't know what that means or who could be behind it. I have my guesses that I won't hazard, but I'm not sure what to say other than that it's an annoyance."
China operates an extensive network of Internet censors to stifle dissent and to control public opinion.
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