Category Archives: Twitter

Twitter Security Staff Kept Firm In Compliance By Disobeying Musk

Twitter employees prevented Elon Musk from violating the company’s privacy settlement with the US government, according to the Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, ArsTechnica reported.

After Musk bought Twitter in late 2022, he gave Bari Weiss and other journalists access to company documents in the so-called “Twitter Files” incident. The access given to outside individuals raised concerns that Twitter (which is currently named X) violated a 2022 settlement with the FTC, which has requirements designed to prevent repeats of previous security failures.

However, based on a concern that such an arrangement would risk exposing nonpublic user information in potential violation of the FTC’s order, longtime information security employees at Twitter intervened and implemented safeguards to mitigate the risks. Ultimately, the third-party individuals did not receive direct access to Twitter’s systems, but instead worked with other company employees who accessed the systems on the individual’s behalf.”

Here are some key parts of the letter the FTC sent to Chairman Jim Jordan:

“I am writing in further response to your April 12, 2023, letter requesting documents and information related to Twitter, in an additional effort to be responsive to your request. This letter addresses your questions regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of potential third-party access to the information of Twitter users. It also addresses your inquiry regarding the FTC’s review of Twitter’s numerous employee terminations and resignations…

…In early December 2022, media reports indicated Twitter had granted certain third-party individuals broad access to the company’s systems, communications, and other information. For example, one individual tweeted on December 8, 2022, “Our team was given extensive, unfiltered access to Twitter’s internal communications and systems.” Around the same time, another individual tweeted that “the authors have broad and expanding access to Twitter’s files.” Moreover, that same individual was reportedly given access to Twitter’s employee systems, to its Slack channel(s), and given a company laptop…

…You also queried why the FTC was looking into personnel decisions made at Twitter. According to X Corporation (Twitter), in the fall of 2022, the company undertook a rapid series of terminations, layoffs, or other reductions in its workforce. Numerous employees resigned during this time. These workforce reductions significantly impacted the Twitter teams charged with protecting user data. Key data privacy and security executives were gone, including the Chief Privacy Officer, the Chief Information Officer, and the Chief Compliance Officer. Simply put, there was no one left at the company responsible for interpreting and modifying data policies and practices to ensure Twitter was complying with the FTC’s Order to safeguard Americans’ personal data…”

Engadget reported that The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded Elon Musk ordered Twitter (now X) employees to take actions that would have violated an FTC consent decree regarding consumers’ data and privacy and security.

The FTC says it will continue to monitor X’s adherence to the order. “The order remains in place and the FTC continues to deploy the order’s tools to protect Twitter users’s data and ensures the company remains in compliance.”

In my opinion, it was an incredibly smart move for the Twitter employees to limit access for the journalists that Elon Musk selected for the “Twitter Files”. Imagine how bad Twitter would have become if those brave employees hadn’t stepped in!

Twitter Violated Contract That Failed to Pay Bonuses To Employees

A federal judge ruled late Friday afternoon that Twitter, now known as X, violated a contract when it failed to pay what amounts to tens of millions of dollars in bonuses that the company had orally promised its employees, Courthouse News Service reported.

Mark Schobinger, the former senior director of compensation for Twitter, filed suit against the social media company on behalf of himself and other current and former Twitter employees in June.

Schobinger, who is based in Texas, claims that employees were not paid a portion of their 2022 bonuses when they were due in the first quarter of 2023, despite repeated promises from senior executives at the company, including Ned Segal, the former chief financial officer of the company. This bonus was to be paid to employees who stayed with the company until the first quarter of 2023.

According to Schobinger, these promises were made both before and after Elon Musk acquired the social media platform in October 2022. Schobinger also said employees took these promises into consideration when deciding whether or not they wanted to leave their jobs with the social media company and that he turned down opportunities from other companies at the time because of the promised bonus.

U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria, in a brisk three-page opinion, wrote that California law governs the case because of the choice-of-law provision in the California Civil Code “applies only to matters of contract interpretation, not to matters of contract validity or enforceability. Because Twitter doesn’t even try to argue that Texas law should apply under the governmental interest approach, California law governs by default.”

Reuters reported Twitter violated contracts by failing to pay millions of dollars in bonuses that the social media company, now called X Corp, had promised its employees, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

Mark Schobinger, who was Twitter’s senior director of compensation before leaving Elon Musk’s company in May, sued Twitter in June, claiming breach of contract.

Schobinger’s suit alleged that before and after billionaire Musk bought Twitter last year, it promised employees 50% of their 2022 target bonuses but never made those payments happen.

In denying Twitter’s motion to dismiss the case, U.S. District Judge Chhabria ruled that Schobinger plausibly stated a breach of contract claim under California law and he was covered by a bonus plan.

X no longer has a media relations office. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment to its X account outside business hours.

In my opinion, it appears that Twitter may have intentionally told employees that they would get a bonus if they stuck around. Eventually, it became clear that this offer was a lie.

Elon Musk Strips Headlines Off News Links On Twitter In Overhaul

X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, is planning a major change in how news articles appear on the service, stripping out the headline and other text so that tweets with links display only an article’s lead image, according to material viewed by Fortune.

Roughly four hours after the publication of this article, Elon Musk confirmed these plans, posting that “this is coming from me directly,” and it “will greatly improve the esthetics.”

The change means that anyone sharing a link on X – from individual users to publishers – would need to manually add their own text alongside the links they share on the service; otherwise the tweet will display only an image with no context other than an overlay of the URL. While clicking on the image will still lead to the full article on the publisher’s website, the change could have major implications for publisher who rely on social media to drive traffic to their sites as well as for advertisers, Fortune reported.

According to a source with knowledge of the matter, the change is indeed being pushed directly by X owner Elon Musk. The primary objective appears to be to reduce the height of tweets, thus allowing more posts to fit within the portion of the timeline that appears on the screen. Musk also believes the change will help curb clickbait, the source said.

TechCrunch reported that currently, a Twitter card for a news article or a blog post shows the headline and summary text (just on the web) along with the header image of the preview card of a post. However, if the proposed change comes through, X will only show the image with a link in a post. That means if a publication or a blog doesn’t post any accompanying text with the link, users will only see the link and the image for that article.

According to TechCrunch, Musk also recently said that journalists vying for more freedom and higher income should directly publish on X. Elon Musk tweeted: “If you’re a journalist who wants more freedom to write and a higher income, then publish directly on this platform!”

The Guardian reported the move may be an attempt to drive people to sign up for X’s premium service. With the shortened links, users could be inclined to include more text along with their posts. The premium service allows a single post of up to 25,000 characters.

It is not immediately clear how it will impact advertisers on the platform, which Musk claimed in July had 540 million monthly users.

With the changes, Musk is pitching X as a more relevant platform for content creators. Premium subscribers can now post longer videos, their posts are shown higher up and they also receive a cut of ad sales.

According to The Guardian, Musk has made a number of abrupt changes to Twitter since he took over as owner in October 2022, many of which have negatively impacted the news media that make up a large portion of its user base. The billionaire has suspended journalists from the platform, removed verification from many media figures, and attempted to launch his own journalistic endeavors with a project called the Twitter Files, in which he had reporters publish “investigations” directly on the platform.

It seems to me that Elon Musk doesn’t really want to support Twitter very much at all. He appears to be doing his best to push people away from using Twitter by making bad decisions that will likely cause harm to many marginalized users.

A Glitch Temporarily Wiped Out X Images And Links

Since Friday, users of X, formerly Twitter, started noticing that many images posted on the platform between 2011 and 2014 were no longer accessible, according to various media reports, Insider reported.

The glitch resulted in some of the most viral moments in internet history becoming inaccessible. It also seemed to affect links posted in the same three-year period – some of which have become shortened links.

The most famous casualty was Ellen’s star-studded selfie at the Oscars, posted in 2014. The post racked up over 2.8 million reshares and 2 million likes since being posted in March 2014.

According to Insider, on Saturday, users posted about losing access to other pieces of internet history, from pictures about the Arab Spring to posts by the K-Pop group BTS.

At the time of writing, access to images and links from 2011 to 2014 – including Ellen’s selfie – continued to be inconsistently available, per Insider’s review.

Insider also reported that X first introduced image-sharing to its platform in June 2011. It remains unclear why the glitch occurred, and neither Musk nor X acknowledged the glitch since the outages began.

However, these outages come amid increasing instability on the platform. Widespread outages have been on the rise since Musk made massive job cuts to the company in October last year, Insider reported in March.

One of the most high-profile outages occurred in February when the platform became inaccessible because an employee accidentally deleted data on a key function. The team responsible for it had already left the company.

The Verge reported that the @Support account at X, the company formerly known as Twitter until Elon Musk rebranded it, says, “Over the weekend we had a bug that prevented us from displaying images from before 2014. No images or data were lost. We fixed the bug, and the issue will be fully resolved in the coming days.”

There are no details mentioned in the post about what the bug was, when it started happening, or why it will take an unspecified amount of time to resolve. In looking up the problem, we learned that changes by Twitter in 2016 used metadata on tweets posted from December 2014 going forward to fill in additional data from linked webpages and allow attachments that didn’t eat up a tweet’s character count, and it was only earlier posts that were hit by the bug.

To me, it seems like X is having unexpected (and strange) problems nearly every day. I suppose this is what happens when the person in charge of a major social media company decides that the first move is to fire the vast majority of its workers. Things typically do not run smoothly after that.

Twitter Deletes All User Photos And Links From 2011 – 2014

Twitter, the social media company officially known as X, appears to have deleted all images from the website that were posted between 2011 and 2014. Links that used Twitter’s native shortening service are also broken, Forbes reported.

According to Forbes, its not immediately clear if this was an intentional act or an error, but whatever’s happening is causing concern among users who’ve been on the site for over a decade.

It appears that Twitter’s link-shortening domain – the new URL that Twitter generates so it can track user activity – is the likely culprit behind why images no longer display and links no longer work.

Twitter launched in 2006 but didn’t support native image uploads until the summer of 2011. Several image-hosting services sprung up to support Twitter, like TwitPic, but that service shut down in 2014 and many images from those early days are lost. But now it seems images that were posted to Twitter directly from 2011 to 2014 could be in danger as well, since they’re no longer loading on the site, Forbes reported.

PCMag reported that Twitter appears to have deleted all of the images that were uploaded to the site between 2011 and 2014. The issues was discovered Saturday by Twitter user Tom Coats.

According to PCMag, along with the loss if images, links that were created during the same time period using Twitter’s link shorter also no longer work. Coats’ tweet about the issue has since had context added to it saying that images have disappeared and links are broken, but the data is still saved on Twitter’s servers.

One of the tweets impacted is Ellen DeGeneres’ famous Oscars selfie, which generated 2.8 million retweets and currently holds the title as the most retweeted post of all time. That particular image was restored on Saturday afternoon along with a tweet of Barack Obama hugging the First Lady after his reelection in 2012.

The Verge reported that X, which was formerly known as Twitter until its recent rebranding, is having a problem displaying old posts that came with images attached or any hyperlinks converged through Twitter’s built-in URL shortener. It’s unclear when the problem started, but it was highlighted on Saturday afternoon in a post by Tom Coats, and a Brazilian vTuber, @DaniloTakagi, had pointed out a couple of days earlier.

As it is, it appears to affect tweets published prior to December 2014. No videos are affected (Twitter only added native image support in 2011 and built-in videos in 2016), but links to YouTube, for example, are now just text with a URL that doesn’t work.

Personally, I think it’s sad that Elon Musk either intentionally, or accidentally, deleted a huge chunk of Twitter’s past content. He needs to be more careful about the decisions he makes, and should think hard before implementing something on a whim.

Musk Says X’s ‘Block’ Feature Is Going Away

Part of the X roadmap? Off-handed reply? Simple attempt to get a rise out of people? Time will tell, TechCrunch reported. The one thing we can say for sure is that X’s owner responded to a post on the platform (on August 18) foreshadowing the potential removal of the block feature.

“Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs,” Elon Musk wrote. “Makes no sense.” The post was a response to a Tesla fan account who asked whether there was any reason to use block instead of mute.

Regarded as a safety feature by many users, the suggestion that block could be going the way of the service’s old verification system was greeted with backlash from concerned users, TechCrunch reported.

“Twitter gives people a variety of tools to control their experience, including blocking,” the company writes on its help page. “Blocking helps people in restricting specific accounts from contacting them, seeing their Tweets, and following them. If you have been blocked by another account on Twitter, you can still block other accounts (including any that have blocked you).”

TechCrunch also reported that while Mute may still remain, the features are not the same. Block restricts fellow users from interacting with, viewing, and following an account. Mute simply hides your posts from their stream. Users are not made aware that they have been muted. Musk adds that the block feature will remain for direct messages.

Blocking has become an essential feature for many users, as they’ve seen an uptick in spam replies on their timeline. Earlier backlash also found some users blocking X Blue/Twitter Premium accounts, as the feature began to prioritize their responses over non-paying users. Many public figures have also relied on the feature as a method of removing harassment from their feed.

CNBC reported the users of X, formerly known as Twitter, will no longer be able to block comments from unwanted followers, according to a post by X owner Elon Musk on Friday, eliminating what’s long been viewed as a key safety feature. Blocking will only be available for direct messages, he said.

CNBC posted a screenshot between @teslaownersSV and @elonmusk, in which Mr. Musk stated that “Block is going to be deleted as a “feature”, except for DMs”.

The response had a “Readers Added Context” added to it: If the ability to block users was to be removed, X would be in violation of the policies of the App Store as well as the Google Play Store. Potentially, this could lead to X being removed from these platforms. There are no such policies for the web-app however.”

According to CNBC, Louis Jones, a longtime media and advertising executive who now works at the Brand Safety Institute, said Musk’s latest plan is very concerning as users could be inundated with spam, threats, and other harmful content.

Musk’s “lax approach to free speech,” is likely to have a “double effect,” making bullying more common on the platform and inhibiting free speech by those users who are targets of bullies and predators, Jones wrote in an email to CNBC. “It’s a downward spiral that cannot be good for the long term success of X.”

Personally, I’ve grown tired of what I see on the X desktop app. It appears that Elon Musk could take away the block feature from the web interface. However, if he tries to do that with the app, it will likely mean his X platform will disappear from the Apple Store and Google Play Store.

Twitter Will Lose Bird Logo In Brand Overhaul

Twitter owner Elon Musk said overnight Sunday that his social media platform will retire its widely recognized blue bird logo, and eventually the Twitter name, as part of his relentless effort to overhaul the company, The Washington Post reported.

Amid a series of tweets asking users whether the brand should change its default color from blue to black or white, Musk added: “Soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.”

According to The Washington Post, Musk said he would replace the famed bird with an “X’, which would match his early payment processing company and the recently named parent company of Twitter, X Holdings. Musk has spoken repeatedly of his hopes to make Twitter an “everything app” that would include a payment system as well as communications.

Later on Sunday, he tweeted the the interim logo “goes live later today.”

Musk’s announcement caught Twitter employees as well as users by surprise. At midday, the company’s webpage on branding still declared: “Our logo is our most recognizable asset. That’s why we’re so protective of it.”

NPR reported that Musk hinted at the change as early as October of last year when he was days away from officially owning the company. “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” he said on Twitter.

Musk’s vision for an “everything app”, NPR reported, has been compared to platforms like the ubiquitous WeChat app in China.

According to NPR, for years, the billionaire has been known for having an affinity for the letter X – though he has shared little explanation as to why.

In one of his earliest ventures, Musk called his online bank That name was later dropped when the platform merged with a competitor to become PayPal. “X” is already the name of Tesla’s third electric car model, which debuted in 2015. Musk’s spaceflight company is also widely referred to as SpaceX. And in 2020, Musk and his then-partner, the Canadian musician Grimes, named their youngest son “X Æ A-12.”

Engadget reported that Elon Musk’s recently-announced AI venture is called xAI. And Twitter’s holding company was renamed to X Corp in April. Musk also talked about how X would help Twitter become an “everything app.” Though Musk has offered few specifics on this vision, many believe he’s referencing apps like WeChat, the most popular app in China that people use for a host of everyday activities like payments and shopping, in addition to social networking.

According to Engadget, officially abandoning the Twitter brand could be a risky move for Musk. The company is already facing an advertising exodus that’s resulted in a loss of more than half of the company’s ad revenue. A rebrand could further alienate advertisers.

In my opinion, changing the brand from a blue bird logo to a X will do little other than to temporarily confuse people who maybe haven’t logged into Twitter for a while. What Twitter really needs is more moderators to make the site welcoming to the marginalized people who are still using the service.

NOTE: The X at the top of this blog post is not the official one that Elon Musk will, eventually, reveal.