Editor’s Note, October 27 at 9:35 PM ET: the transaction is completed, Elon Musk now owns Twitter.
Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is likely to close on October 28th. For just $44 billion, he will own what he once called a “virtual town square.” He also seems to own all data of Twitter users.
If you care about your digital privacy and are a Twitter user, this may not be good news. Over the years, Twitter has been plagued with privacy and security issues. As a result, everything you’ve ever done or said on Twitter, public or private, including direct messages, could make you one of the richest people in the world in the near future. It will also reportedly be owned by a man who plans to get rid of his 75% of staff, further jeopardizing Twitter’s security. Oops!
There are still many unknowns, and it will take some time before they become clear. Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, didn’t respond to a request for comment, and Twitter hasn’t said much to reassure users. The company told his Recode when asked how long it keeps user data and how long (if any) it takes for a user’s data to be completely removed from Twitter if they delete their account. , said, “We have nothing to add at this time.”twitter Said Upon your request, we will permanently delete your account, which will take at least 30 days. Also, DMs can remain on his Twitter server for years even when you think you’ve deleted them. So, if you are really concerned you can delete your account, but there is no guarantee that some or all of your data will be deleted.
We’ve also seen situations where control of user data is a condition of regulatory approval, such as the merger of Google and Fitbit. The European Union approved the acquisition on condition that Fitbit’s user data was technically separated from Google data used for advertising for at least 10 years. However, those terms were announced prior to the completion of the merger and were intended to mitigate competitive concerns. Not done yet.
Well, Musk walked into Twitter’s HQ on Friday (maybe he’s got a sink again), turned on his computer, and immediately read all your DMs and snooped through private accounts’ tweets. Are you going to collect a user’s phone number? Almost certainly not, according to Andy Wu, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and whether it actually does depends on several factors.
Twitter management must first comply with Musk’s request. If not, he should replace them. To do that, it needs to pass the board of directors. Based on a preliminary proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk plans to soon form his own board of directors, so any veteran Twitter employee or current board member can block him. It is not clear whether
Also, any internal controls Twitter has, including those that are supposed to implement consent-based orders with agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), could stand in Musk’s way. . Musk will have to work with his Twitter employees to get that data, and they may not be able to help him read someone’s DM. It’s hard to imagine Musk making such a request and that request somehow not leaking to the press. .
That’s especially true with musk written plan To make Twitter “the world’s most respected advertising platform,” [users’] needs. “You need data for that. Blatantly spying on your users is a great way to stop them from giving it to you, and lobbying governments to crack down on your company’s privacy controls.” I can.
But at the end of the day, if Twitter has the data and Musk wants to see it, well…
“I think the point is that he can probably do it,” said Wu, who was speaking on the assumption that the deal would close on Friday. “There’s no point in doing that. But Musk also does pointless things.”
Twitter users should worry about data leaking to everyone, not data leaking to Musk. Twitter’s track record with security is already not great, and Musk may be laying off employees who are critical to maintaining protections that actually work (reportedly, Musk has so many It has stated that it has no plans to fire any of its employees.
In July 2020, Twitter was hacked by a teenager who gained access to some of the platform’s largest accounts, including Musk, and some of those accounts’ DMs. Twitter responded to the hack by hiring well-known hacker Peiter “Mudge” Zatko as its head of security in November 2020. Zatko said he left the company in January 2022. By September, Twitter had major security issues and vulnerabilities and regularly failed to adequately protect user data. Zatko claimed in a whistleblower complaint that about half of his 7,500 employees at Twitter have access to users’ personal information. There were rules against doing so, but Zatko said they were not enforced. He also claimed Twitter did not follow security protocols as part of his 2011 consent order with the FTC.
Twitter has largely denied Zatko’s allegations, calling them inaccurate and out of context “false narratives” in a statement.A Zatko spokesperson declined to comment on Twitter. said.
Jason Goldman is Twitter’s original head of product and former board member. tweeted Wednesday night “A significant number of people who have worked on this site” Download archive For some reason I stopped DMing anything I didn’t want to publish. I think the period means a lot of upheaval.
“With that comes a higher risk of making a big mistake,” Goldman said in a Signal message.
However, there is one bright spot. Musk is interested in having DMs end-to-end encrypted. That meant no one but the sender and receiver could see them, including masks. , Musk said he believes DM encryption should be the first thing he does at his new company.
He also remembers that while Musk has the right to moderate Twitter as he sees fit, Twitter users and advertisers may not want to get too involved with places the platform dislikes and misinformation. He added that it was necessary to
“Advertisers and users will flee if Musk decides to court celebrities who spread hate and lies,” Wyden said. “The internet is littered with failed MAGA platforms. proves that the majority of Internet users have no interest in swimming in the quagmire of sites that do not invest in responsible moderation.”
It’s easy to see how Musk thinks Twitter should be. At the very least, the Twitter-Musk deal should be a reminder that data confidentiality is limited to the extent desired by the companies providing it. And as we know more than ever, that ownership can change.
Update, October 27, 6:30 PM ET: We’ve updated this story with additional information about possible board changes.