If Musk starts firing Twitter’s security team, run

Elon Musk is buy Twitter for $44 billion after the sexiest saga of all time. And while Musk tried to reassure advertisers yesterday that “Twitter obviously cannot become a free hell for all, where anything can be said without consequences,” the acquisition raises practical questions about what the social network’s roughly 240 million active users are doing can expect from the platform in the future.

Foremost among those concerns are questions about how Twitter’s stance on user security and privacy might change in the Musk era. A number of senior Twitter executives were fired last night, including CEO Parag Agrawal, the company’s general counsel Sean Edgett and Vijaya Gadde, the company’s head of legal policy, trust and safety. company, known for working to protect user data from law enforcement. court applications and orders. Gadde led the committee that ousted Donald Trump from Twitter in January 2021 following the Capitol riots. Musk, meanwhile, said in May that he would like to reinstate Trump on the platform and called the former US president’s impeachment “morally wrong”.

This afternoon, Musk wrote that “Twitter will form a content moderation council with widely diverse views. No major content or account reinstatement decisions will be made prior to this board meeting. »

Content moderation has real implications for user safety on any platform, especially when it involves hate speech and violent misinformation. But other topics, including Twitter’s direct message privacy, protection against unlawful government data requests, and the overall quality of Twitter’s security protections, will loom large in the weeks ahead. This is especially true in light of recent charges of former Twitter security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, who described Twitter as having grossly inadequate digital security defenses in an August whistleblower report.

“I personally don’t know what to do, especially considering Mudge’s whistleblower complaint,” says Whitney Merrill, a privacy and data protection attorney and former Federal Trade Commission attorney. “I just don’t put sensitive data or data that I would like to keep confidential in DMs.”

Twitter offers a tool to upload all the data in it to your account, and reviewing your own treasury is a good first step to understanding what information the company has linked to you. However, it’s unclear how much control you currently have over deleting this data, and policies may continue to evolve under the Musk administration. Twitter DMs, for example, only offer the “Delete for you” option, which means deleting posts from your own account but not for other users.

More broadly, Twitter’s current account deactivation policy simply says, “If you do not log back into your account within 30 days of deactivation, your account will be permanently deactivated.” Once permanently deactivated, all information associated with your account is no longer available in our production tools. It’s unclear exactly what this means in terms of long-term data retention and, again, policies may change in the future.



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