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CNN T-Shirts – Spreadshirt System Exploited

Yesterday we posted about how Spreadshirt made it possible to buy CNN headlines on t-shirts. Well, someone figured out that you can change the url for products and it will change the title/image on the CNN t-shirts. A Digg user created a shirt that said “ABC News Fucked Up the Pennsylvania Debate” and over 849 people dugg the story. From there everyone started creating their own funny CNN headlines. One Digg user commented “now that is a rather spectacular example of WTF coding. “let’s just send the article title through as an URL string, what’s the worst that could happen?” Some of the t-shirts created by users included:

“CNN welcomes our Digg overloads”
“MSNBC is where it’s at”
“Hillary is a liar”
“We don’t report real news”
“Obama zealots are cry babies”

The system has since been fixed so if you change the search string it will redirect you back to the list of shirts. In some circumstances having the text in the url would be fine but in this case it was a serious oversight. This is embarrassing for Spreadshirt but it sure did help spread the word about CNN’s new t-shirt feature. For more info check out Digg.


Written by T-Shirt Talk


  1. Gavin · April 25, 2008

    damn why is it you always read about these things after you had a chance to play too 😛

    Some slapped CNN developers wrists after this was found out I am sure!

  2. Jana Eggers · May 14, 2008

    Just to make sure the facts are straight: No shirts with modified headlines were ever able to be printed.

    There was no “fix” done. And no developers got their wrists slapped. The shop acted the entire time as intended. You said it best:
    “…it sure did help spread the word about CNN’s new t-shirt feature.”

    We could have at any time (before or after launch) stopped fake headlines from being displayed, just as we prevented fake headlines from being printed.

    As Oscar Wilde said: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

  3. T-Shirt Talk · May 16, 2008

    Thanks for the follow up. However, “The shop acted the entire time as intended”. It is easy to say that now but the system was not created to let people create their own fake headlines. This was an exploit that someone found. But you are right it wasn’t something that had to be fixed because it was driving attention to the system.


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