‘Tape or chewing gum:’ Twitter’s lapses echo worldwide

From hearth departments to governments, from faculty districts to groups, from nearby utilities to grassroots organizers around the sector, Twitter at its quality is a tool to get a message out speedy, effectively, without delay.

It’s additionally a steady hazard-and-praise calculation.

A recent bombshell whistleblower report from Twitter’s former head of protection alleges that the social media organisation has been negligently lax on cybersecurity and privateness protections for its users for years. While worrisome for every body on Twitter, the revelations will be mainly concerning for folks who use it to reach constituencies, get information out approximately emergencies and for political dissidents and activists in the crosshairs of hackers or their personal governments.

“We generally tend to study those companies as big, nicely-resourced entities who recognize what they’re doing — however you comprehend that quite a few their actions are advert hoc and reactive, driven via crises,” said Prateek Waghre, coverage director on the Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit in India. “Essentially, they’re regularly held collectively with the aid of cello tape or chewing gum.”Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, who served as Twitter’s security chief till he become fired early this yr, filed the lawsuits final month with federal U.S. Authorities, alleging that the corporation misled regulators about its poor cybersecurity defenses and its negligence in trying to root out fake money owed that unfold disinformation. Among Zatko’s maximum critical accusations is that Twitter violated the phrases of a 2011 FTC settlement by using falsely claiming that it had put more potent measures in place to shield the security and privacy of its users.Waghre stated the allegations within the grievance approximately India — that Twitter knowingly allowed the Indian authorities to location its marketers at the employer payroll in which they had “direct unsupervised get admission to to the agency’s systems and person records” — were particularly worrisome. He additionally pointed to an incident in advance this month in which a former Twitter employee was determined guilty of passing alongside sensitive user information to royal family participants in Saudi Arabia in change for bribes.

The consequences of privacy and security lapses can variety from inconvenience and embarrassment — consisting of whilst an Indiana State Police account turned into hacked and tweeted “poo-poo head” earlier this year — to a whole lot worse. In October 2021, a Saudi humanitarian useful resource employee become sentenced to twenty years in prison because of an anonymous, satirical Twitter account that the dominion says he ran. It’s possible that the case is related with the men accused of spying on behalf of the kingdom at the same time as running at Twitter.As an advise for dissidents and others detained in Saudi Arabia, Bethany Al-Haidari has been involved for years about Twitter’s person privateness safeguards. The new whistleblower allegations make her all of the extra worried.

“Given what we realize about how social media is used around the world, this is incredibly tricky,” said Al-Haidari, who works for The Freedom Initiative, a U.S.-based totally human rights institution. The opportunity of hackers or governments exploiting the alleged cybersecurity lapses at Twitter to get users’ identities, non-public messages or other personal facts “is pretty stressful to me,” she stated.

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