Tag Archives: Elon Musk

FTC Says Elon Musk May Have Jeopardized Data Privacy And Security

Court filings have revealed new details about the FTC’s investigation into Elon Musk over his handling of privacy and security issues at X. In newly public court documents, the Department of Justice says Musk fostered a “chaotic environment” at Twitter, now known as X, that prevented officials from complying with their obligations to the FTC, Engadget reported.

According to Engadget, the FTC investigation stems from a 2022 settlement between FTC and Twitter over the company’s use of deceptive ad targeting under the leadership of Jack Dorsey. Prior to Musk’s takeover, the company paid a $150 million fine and signed on to an agreement to implement specific privacy and security measures. It was this additional data protection measures that apparently fell by the wayside once Musk took control, triggering new scrutiny from the regulator.

In March, the FTC began investigating the rushed rollout of Twitter Blue, which reportedly launched without the privacy and security review required under the FTC order, as well as Musk’s handling of the so-called “Twitter Files.”

CNN reported that Elon Musk should be forced to testify in an expansive US government probe of X, the company formerly known as Twitter, the US government said.

The government said mass layoffs and other decisions Musk made raised questions about X’s ability to comply with the law and to protect users’ privacy.

According to CNN, the US government’s attempt to compel Musk’s testimony is the latest turn in an investigation that predates Musk’s acquisition of X that has intensified due to Musk’s own actions, according to a court filing by the Justice Department on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission.

The court filing dated Monday cites depositions with multiple former X executives, including its former chief information security officer and former chief privacy officer, who testified that a barrage of layoffs and resignations following Musk’s $44 billion takeover may have hindered X from meeting its security obligations under a 2011 FTC consent agreement.

The Guardian reported that the US Department of Justice alleged in a legal filing on Tuesday that depositions from former employees at Twitter, now rebranded X, raised “serious questions” about whether the company was complying with an order imposed by the consumer and competition watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“The information obtained revealed a chaotic environment at the company that raised serious questions about whether and how Musk and other leaders were ensuring X Corp’s compliance with the 2022 administrative order,” the filing said.

According to The Guardian, Twitter’s former director of security engineering, Andrew Sayler, testified that he had “ongoing questions about Elon’s commitment to the overall security and privacy of the organization” because he thought “the manner in which Elon was requesting us to grant access to third parties that had not undergone our regular vetting process … [had] some degree of disregard for the overall sensitivity and security at that level of access”.

In a further example from the filing, another employee said the Tesla CEO “insisted on launching the new Twitter Blue user verification services on an accelerated basis, despite staffing limitations.” Musk, according to the testimony, insisted that the service had to launch “right now” even though Twitter’s staffing was reduced so drastically that remaining employees were “struggling to keep up.”

Personally, I think that Elon Musk should have slowed down the changes he made on (then) Twitter (and later) X. I think this lawsuit could have been avoided if Elon Musk didn’t try to do a speed-run of scattered policies shortly after he purchased Twitter.

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.

Elon Musk’s X Imposed A 5-Second Delay On Links To Meta Apps

The company formerly known as Twitter on Tuesday slowed the speed with which users could access links to the New York Times, Facebook, and other news organizations and online competitors, a move that appeared targeted at companies that have drawn the ire of owner Elon Musk, The Washington Post reported.

Users who clicked a link on Musk’s website, now called X, for one of the targeted websites were made to wait about five seconds before seeing the page, according to tests conducted Tuesday by The Washington Post.

According to The Washington Post, on Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was first published, X began reversing the throttling on some of the sites, dropping the delay times back to zero. It was unknown if all the throttled websites had normal service restored.

The Post’s analysis found that links to most other sites were unaffected – including those to The Washington Post, Fox News, and social media services such as Mastodon and YouTube – with the shortened links being routed to their final destination in a second or less. A user first flagged the delays early Tuesday on the technology discussion forum Hacker News.

Someone on Hacker News posted: Go to Twitter and click on a link going to any url on “NYTimes.com” or “threads.net” and you’ll see about a ~5 second delay before t.co forwards you to the right address. Twitter won’t ban domains they don’t like, but will waste your time if you visit them. I’ve been tracking the NYT delay ever since it was added (8/4, roughly noon Pacific time), and the delay is so consistent it’s obviously deliberate.

Variety reported that X, Elon Musk’s new name for the social network formerly known as Twitter, appears to be adding an approximately five-second delay to links that are redirected to certain sites, including the New York Times, Reuters, and Meta’s family of apps including Facebook, Instagram and Threads.

According to Variety, links posted on X to Bluesy, a decentralized social network backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, and Substack are subject to the delay. As noted by the Washington Post, the companies and services whose links are being delayed by X “have previously been signaled out by Musk for ridicule or attack.”

X’s apparent throttling of links to certain domains was first flagged by a user on Y Combinator’s Hacker News discussion forum, who claimed to have first noticed the delay in New York Times links on Aug. 4. X uses its own link-shortening service, t.co. A message on that site says “Twitter uses the t.co domain as part of a service to protect users from harmful activity, to provide value for the developer ecosystem, and as a quality signal for surfacing relevant, interesting Tweets.” Variety reported.

Engadget reported that Elon Musk is, once again, punishing websites run by his perceived enemies. The website formerly known as Twitter seems to be interfering with links to The New York Times, Mastodon, Bluesy, Threads, and Substack to make them load noticeably slower.

Personally, I find it annoying that Elon Musk has chosen to delay the posts from accounts he doesn’t happen to like. Fortunately, Hacker News and The Washington Post noticed what was happening, wrote about it, and (hopefully) stopped the problem.

X Shuts Down $100M Promoted Accounts Ad Business

X, the company formerly known as Twitter, will no longer allow advertisers to promote their accounts within the platform’s timeline to attract new followers, according to an email to advertising clients obtained by Axios. According to Axios, promoted accounts – or “Follower Objective” ads – generate more than $100 million annually in global revenue for X, a source familiar with the company’s business told Axios.

Promoted accounts are one of the oldest ad formats offered on the platform. The ads appear as text-based posts within the X timeline and include a “Follow” button for the account prompting them.

But follower ads, while easy to sell, are static. They don’t leverage any of the multi-media tools, like video, that X is trying to lean into.

Axios also reported that in a note to clients on August 10, an X representative said the company planned to start “depreciating the Followers objective” ad unit beginning as soon as last Friday.

The representative wrote that the change “comes as part of a larger effort to optimize the X experience by prioritizing content formats.”

They further noted that given client’s strategies are reliant on the followers objective ad unit, X – in the weeks ahead – “will work to identify alternative routes to meet these goals.”

According to Axios, the source familiar with X’s business said the change was driven by X’s product group, not the revenue side of the company. The company’s client team was given little time to communicate the change to clients ahead of time, the source said.

Follower objective ads represent a small portion of X’s overall ad revenue, but the company is cutting them at a time where reports suggest it’s list a significant among of ad revenue. X is still not profitable, and has reportedly failed to pay vendors and bills as its revenue challenges persist.

Forbes reported that X, formerly known as Twitter, has told clients it will stop offering advertisements that encourage users to follow accounts directly from their own timeline, as the company plans to redirect advertisers toward other promotions – amid reports the company’s ad revenue has dropped significantly since Elon Musk’s takeover last year.

According to Forbes, “Follower Objective” ads allow a tweet to appear on the timeline of someone who does not follow an advertiser’s account, along with a clickable “follow” button – X says these ads are an “easy way” to quickly grow followers.

Forbes also reported that by the end of January, more than half of Twitter’s top advertisers – a list that includes Wells Fargo, Jeep, and Coca-Cola – had spent no money on the platform in the first few weeks of the year. Six ad agency executives told the New York Times their clients had been driven away from X by Musk’s changes to the platform and concerns about “misleading and toxic content.”

In my opinion, it sounds like Elon Musk doesn’t really care much for advertising (which is valid – many people avoid ads). That said, I don’t see how cracking down on “Follower Objective” ads will suddenly entice big companies to return to X. Some companies may have concerns about the content posted above and below their ads.

Zuckerberg Dismisses Musk For Avoiding Cage Match

The long-hyped possibility of a cage match between tech titans Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk appears to be no more, after Zuckerberg dismissed Musk for allegedly delaying their anticipated showdown in the ring, NBC News reported.

“I think we can all agree Elon isn’t serious and it’s time to move on,” the Facebook co-founder wrote Sunday in a post on Threads, the text-based app Meta launched as a competitor to X, the company formerly known as Twitter.

The social media executives have been teasing the possibility of a mixed martial arts fight since June, calling it a “cage match,” an informal term referring to wrestling in a closed-in space that combatants aim to escape from.

But in his latest comments on the matter, Zuckerberg said that while he was ready to fight, Musk kept coming up with reasons he couldn’t.

Vanity Fair reported that it’s been a roller coaster of braggadocio since Musk first tweeted that he’d happily fight Zuckerberg, whose Instagram is peppered with posts about his rigorous martial arts training. The 38-year-old discovered Brazilian jiu-jitsu during the pandemic, ESPN reports, and participated in his first tournament in May while competing at 149 lbs.

Musk, who is 52 years old, initially proposed that the two meet at an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) venue in Las Vegas but admitted that he needed “a lot more training” to meet Zuck in the octagon.

According to Vanity Fair, last week, Musk announced that the matchup would be live-streamed on X (formerly Twitter), the social network Musk purchased for $44 billion last October. “All proceeds will go to charity for veterans.”

Shortly thereafter, Musk announced a litany of reasons why he couldn’t fight Zuckerberg then, including that he might need surgery to fix an unspecified issue with his neck and back. But a text exchange between Musk and Zuckerberg, which Musk sent to biographer Walter Isaacson on Sunday, suggests that those concerns might have fallen by the wayside.

The Verge reported that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Threads post today that “it’s time to move on” from Elon Musk’s cage fight antics; “We can all agree Elon isn’t serious,” he wrote, adding that the refusal of the X (formerly known as Twitter) owner to confirm a date and his offer to “do a practice round in my backyard instead” shows how unserious he is.

According to The Verge, the two CEO’s agreed in June to have the cage match. The whole idea seemed potentially entertaining on its face, but has instead been exhausting to follow as Musk makes unsubstantiated claims, including about where the fight will happen and who will benefit from it, only to kick the can down the road with a surgery announcement when his bluff is called.

Personally, I think that Zuckerberg was quite serious about engaging in a cage match against Elon Musk. It is clear that Zuckerberg has realized that Elon is not actually interested in fighting Zuckerberg. A person who honestly wants to fight Zuckerberg wouldn’t be making up a bunch of excuses that are intended to postpone the match indefinitely.

Twitter’s Cash Flow Still Negative As Ad Revenue Drops 50%

Twitter’s cash flow remains negative because of a nearly 50% drop in advertising revenue and a heavy debt load, Elon Musk said on Saturday, falling short of his expectation in March that Twitter could reach cash flow positive by June, Reuters reported.

“Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else,” Musk said in a tweet, replying to suggestions on recapitalization.

According to Reuters, this is the latest sign that the aggressive cost-cutting measures since Musk acquired Twitter in October alone are not enough to get Twitter to cash flow positive, and suggests Twitter’s ad revenue may have not recovered as fast as Musk suggested in an interview in April with the BBC that most advertisers had returned to the site.

CNBC reported that by January, hundreds of advertisers had reduced or halted their ad spending on Twitter in response to Musk making steep staff cuts at the company, and implementing changes to the platform, especially restoring previously banned accounts and changing its approach to content moderation.

In April, Musk told a BBC reporter that “almost all” advertisers had resumed buying ads on Twitter. He also claimed at the time that the company was “roughly breakeven,” and expected to become cash flow positive within the next quarter, CNBC reported.

According to CNBC, his statement about Twitter’s cash flow problems today comes a little over one month since Linda Yaccarino, who previously ran global advertising for Comcast’s NBCUniversal, took on the role of Twitter CEO. NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

In recent days, Twitter began doling out a share of its ad revenue to select content creators on its platform. Musk’s remarks were made in response to followers who wanted to know why that revenue-sharing program was so limited in scope.

Mint asked “Why are advertisers avoiding Twitter?” According to Mint, Elon Musk added that Twitter is set to post $3 billion in revenue which is a significant drop from the $5.1 billion in 2021. The advertisers turned their faces away from Twitter after it relaxed its approach to content moderation. The advertisers expressed skepticism about their advertisements appearing around inappropriate content.

Engadget reported Elon Musk’s admission that Twitter has negative cash flow comes the same week that Twitter’s ad-revenue program began paying out some creators, including far-right influencers. On Friday, Musk claimed the social network could see “all-time high device user seconds usage” sometime this week. He also previously said almost all the advertisers who had left the platform following his takeover in October had “either come back” or “said they will come back.”

Personally, I know I have seen a bunch of very strange ads on Twitter. Most of them appear to be hoping people will buy things that don’t seem to have much of a use, or are potentially harmful. There is an ad that shows a grill that someone has tossed a plastic-looking mesh bag full of cut vegetables on. The only ads I’ve seen from big name brands are the ones that precede videos from a sports team.

CNBC Had A “Sprawling” Interview With Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sat down for a sprawling interview with CNBC anchor David Faber on Tuesday following Tesla’s 2023 annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas, CNBC reported.

During the course of their approximately hour long conversation, Musk reflected on:

How he has managed a takeover of Twitter so far and what lies ahead. Among other things, he said Twitter’s Community Notes feature has cost Twitter $40 million in business when two big clients reduced spending after their ads received community notes accusing them of false advertising. He also claimed that when the acquisition closed, Twitter had negative $3 billion in annual cash flow and $1 billion in the bank.

He also defended his own tweets that were widely criticized as lending credence to conspiracies about George Soros and a recent mass shooting event in Allen, Texas, insisting “I’ll say what I want, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it.”

His political views, including his belief that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and it wasn’t stolen, but that he thinks there was at least some voting fraud. He also said he voted for Biden but hinted that he wasn’t happy with his choice, saying “I wish we could have just a normal human being as president.”

His personal views and habits when it comes to work and productivity: He said he takes only two or three days off per year, works seven days a week and gets six hours of sleep a night. He also said he believes it’s morally wrong for people in the “laptop class” to advocate for working form home when service workers, such as people who work in factories, still have to show up in person.

CNBC also posted an article titled: “Elon Musk: Working from home is ‘morally wrong’ when service workers still have to show up” From the article:

Silicon Valley “laptop classes” need to get off their “moral high horse” with their “work-from-home bull***, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told CNBC’s David Faber in a Tuesday interview.

Musk was discussing return-to-office imperatives that have caused significant concern among tech workers in Silicon Valley and across the U.S., many of who were promised generous remote work mandates by top executives.

“I think that the whole notion of work from home is a bit like the fake Marie Antoinette quote, ‘Let them eat cake’,” Musk said. “It’s not just a productive thing,” Musk said, “I think it’s morally wrong.”

Musk referred to tech workers as the “laptop classes living in la-la-land,” telling Faber it was hypocritical to work from home while expecting service workers to continue to show up in person.

Twitter’s headquarters in the United States is located in San Francisco, California. The California Civil Rights Department clearly states: “Disability discrimination occurs when an employer treats a qualified employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability. The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.”

It seems to me that reasonable accommodation for workers with disabilities should include the option to work from home. As a person who has disabilities, I find Elon Musk’s comments about employees who want to work from home to be disgusting and degrading.