ArticlesYouTube Bug

This YouTube bug is the first in a series of famous bugs — the villains of the developer world — that broke the Internet, or almost did, even if it was for only a few seconds.

When YouTube was first launched, nobody, not even the YouTube guys, thought a video would ever be watched two billion times. To be precise, no one thought a video would be watched more than 2,147,483,647 times — the maximum numerical value that can be stored by a 32-bit signed integer, which YouTube was using to represent the view count at the time.

Then Korean pop star phenomenon Psy hit the scene and Gangnam Style achieved world domination and things have never been the same since.

In just two years following its release, Psy gave us this precious YouTube bug:

 

YouTube Bug

 

Here’s what YouTube had to say:

 

YouTube Bug

 

A 32-bit integer is usually more than sufficient for the majority of routine calculations, but it wasn’t enough for the online world’s outsized craving for Gangnam Style. This happens because a signed integer wraps around (two’s complement) once the maximum positive value is reached, meaning it is then succeeded by the minimum negative value, which is -2,147,483,648.

We need not worry because Google has since upgraded to a 64-bit signed integer, which can store values from −9, 223,372,036,854,775,808 to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807. That should keep us covered for the next few years…

Google later revealed that they had anticipated Psy smashing the 32-bit count and planted an easter egg where the counter spins like a slot machine until it hits the minimum negative value.

 

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