How Thousands of Twitter Employees Allegedly Accessed User Information, Whistleblower Mudge Says Twitter Has Huge Security Gaps

Twitter staff were ordered to work 84 hours a week and managers slept in the office on weekends,
as they strive to meet Elon Musk’s tight deadlines

Twitter staff have been clocking more hours than usual since Elon Musk took over, according to a report. It comes as staff face the looming threat of layoffs as part of the tech mogul’s planned business overhaul. Twitter officials told some employees to work 12-hour days, seven days a week (equivalent to 84 hours a week) to meet Musk’s deadlines, according to the report, citing the internal communication. There was no talk about overtime.

Additionally, while searching through archived messages in the company’s internal systems, Elon Musk came across a message that seemed to lend credence to his claims that he believed Twitter was hiding information. related to the amount of spam on its platform.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk took more than 50 of his trusted Tesla employees, mostly software engineers from the Autopilot team, with him in his acquisition of Twitter. Musk, CEO of automaker Tesla and maker of reusable rockets SpaceX, completed the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on October 28 and quickly got his bearings. He immediately fired the CEO, CFO, heads of the company’s policy and legal teams, and also dissolved Twitter’s board.

According to internal records, employees of other Musk companies are allowed to work on Twitter, including more than 50 from Tesla, two from the Boring Company (which builds underground tunnels) and one from Neuralink (which builds a brain-machine interface). ).

Some of Musk’s friends, advisers and supporters, including his boss family office Jared Birchall, the business angel Also included are Jason Calacanis and PayPal’s founding COO and venture capitalist David Sacks. The same goes for two people who share Musk’s last name, James and Andrew Musk, who worked at Palantir and Neuralink respectively.

Among the dozens of people specifically recruited by Elon Musk from Tesla are: Director of Software Development Ashok Elluswamy, Director of Autopilot and TeslaBot Engineering Milan Kovac, Senior Director of Software Engineering Maha Virduhagiri ; Pete Scheutzow, senior staff technical program managerand Jake Nocon, part of Tesla’s management unit, as senior security intelligence officer.

Nocon previously worked for Uber and Nisos, a security firm that has a multimillion-dollar contract with Tesla to identify insider threats and monitor criticism of the company.

On Twitter, Musk relies on his lieutenants and loyalists to decide who and what to cut or keep on the social network.

He’s also urging them to learn everything they can about Twitter as soon as possible, from source code to content moderation and data privacy requirements, so he can redesign the platform, several employees said. from Twitter over the weekend.

Musk presents himself as an absolutist of free speech, but he must balance those preferences with laws and commercial realities. He said in an open letter to advertisers last week when he took over the company: “Twitter clearly cannot be a free-for-all hell, where anything can be said without consequence”.

It was not immediately clear how Tesla employees should divide their time between the automaker and Twitter.

Often, when Tesla employees work for Elon Musk’s other company, usually SpaceX or the Boring Company, they may be paid by the other company as a consultant. Some of Musk’s employees have full-time positions at some of his companies. For example, Tesla’s Vice President of Materials, Charlie Kuehmann, is also SpaceX’s Vice President.

According to two Tesla employees, workers at the electric car maker are sometimes forced to participate in projects at other companies without extra pay, either because it’s seen as good for their careers or because the work is visible help. related to an operation or project.

12 hour code review and service

Several Twitter employees said over the weekend that Tesla employees currently at Twitter are involved in the social network’s code review, though their skills learned working on Autopilot and other Tesla software and hardware don’t directly overlap. in the languages ​​and systems used. to build and maintain the social network. These employees asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to reporters about internal matters and fear reprisals.

For example, most engineers at automakers, even Tesla, have no experience designing and operating search engines and platforms that are widely available to the public.

Twitter has multiple codebases with millions of lines of code each, and a whopping 10 million or even 100 million or more Request Per Second (RPS) systems that support it. At Tesla, Python is one of the favorite scripting languages, and at Twitter, Scala is widely used by programmers.

Twitter is also more exposed to international regulations regarding hate speech and data privacy, for example, particularly the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Twitter employees who were there before Musk took over said they were asked to show his teams all kinds of technical documentation, justify their work and that of their teams, and explain their value to within the company. The threat of dismissal looms if they fail to impress, they say.

Employees said they fear being fired without reason or warning, rather than being fired with severance pay. Some fear they won’t reap the rewards of stock options scheduled to vest in the first week of November, according to company documentation.

Meanwhile, Twitter employees said they had not yet received specific plans from Musk and his team and were largely unaware of possible staff cuts within their groups, budgets and their long term strategy.

However, Musk has set near-impossible deadlines for some things that must be done.

An immediate project was the redesign of the company’s subscription software, called Twitter Blue, and the company’s verification system (sometimes called blue check for the way they are indicated in the service). Employees said Musk wants that work done by the first week of November. The media previously reported that Musk wants to charge $20 per user per month, and only provide verification marks to the accounts of users who are paid subscribers, and remove verification from non-paying accounts for Twitter Blue.

In the end, Elon Musk opted for an 8 dollar per month formula, noting a certain number of advantages of having such an account.

Musk also wrote that the $8 price will be adjusted by the country in proportion to purchasing power parity. The revamped Twitter Blue will offer priority on replies, mentions, and searches, essential to defeating spam/scams, the ability to post long videos and audio, half the ads, and a workaround paywall for publishers who want to work with us,” he wrote. It will also give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators,” Musk wrote.

Twitter officials asked some employees to take 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, to meet Musk’s strict deadlines, according to internal communications. The sprint orders came without any discussion about overtime pay or compensation time, or job security. Completing the tasks before the deadline in the first week of November is seen as a make-or-break issue for their Twitter career.

In an atmosphere of fear and distrust, many Twitter employees stopped communicating with each other in internal systems about workplace issues. In addition, some of Twitter’s Slack channels have gone virtually silent, several employees said.

Twitter officials, meanwhile, have been asked to conduct performance reviews and send lists of employees to Musk’s team to retain, people familiar with the discussions said.

But managers themselves are also feeling the pressure, with some telling the New York Times that they slept in Twitter’s offices on Friday and Saturday.

Senior Twitter executives were invited to meetings with Musk and his team last week at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, where they were asked to outline their division’s work, two people involved in the discussions said. meeting with The Times. Several Twitter executives told the Daily that they feel they are being scrutinized.

The Washington Post reported that Musk’s team planned to cut about a quarter of Twitter’s staff in an initial round of layoffs, citing a person familiar with discussions at Twitter’s headquarters last year. week.

Musk digs through archived messages in the system

Meanwhile, Musk and his entourage pored over messages archived in the systems, apparently looking for people to fire and budgets or projects to cut. On Sunday, in a display of his unlimited access to information within the company, CEO Elon Musk (who now calls himself “Chief Twit” but is officially CEO and sole director) posted a screenshot of his 112 million followers listed on Twitter.

The screenshot depicts comments made by Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, in May 2022. At the time, Musk was trying to walk away from his deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share. In court and in public, Musk has vehemently accused Twitter of tampering with metrics, specifically reducing the amount of spam, fake accounts and harmful bots that exist on the platform.

In the internal message that Musk made public, Roth wrote disparagingly about someone involved in the company named Amir, and also said that if Amir kept telling him bullshit, my route to growth was “the OKRs.” of Amir is entirely based on fraudulent measurements. and he doesn’t care and may be actively trying to hide the bullet”. Elon is literally doing what he accuses us of doing

Musk said in a tweet that Wachtell and the Twitter board deliberately withheld this evidence from the court. He also appeared to threaten further legal action, writing: Stay tuned, more to come…

Source : Elon Musk

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