Today at Twitter

Mike Masnick, Techdirt:

As for the background on all this, some of you youngsters might not remember this, but back in 2011 Twitter signed a consent decree with the FTC over its failure to safeguard user info. Now, almost every big tech company these days has a consent decree with the FTC after they royally screwed up something and effectively leaked users’ private data. Most of the consent decrees last for 20 years. That might make you think such consent decrees are meaningless, but the opposite is true. While under these consent decrees, the FTC now has tremendous power to cause a world of hurt to the company for screwing up.


All of this is kinda important right now, as Elon tries to roll out features in record speeds. Because… the consent decree has some requirements for rolling out new products and making sure they’re secure. The original consent decree says that any new product or service must be rolled out with a written plan […]

Alex Heath, the Verge:

The company’s chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, chief information security officer Lea Kissner, and chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty have all resigned, according to two employees and an internal message seen by The Verge. Kissner confirmed their departure in a tweet on Thursday.

In a note posted to Twitter’s Slack and viewable to all staff that was obtained by The Verge, an attorney on the company’s privacy team wrote, “Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them. I do not believe he cares about the human rights activists. the dissidents, our users in un-monetizable regions, and all the other users who have made Twitter the global town square you have all spent so long building, and we all love.”

Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer, Platformer:

Just after lunchtime on the West Coast, Musk held an unannounced all-hands meeting with staff — his first as CEO. Musk had given employees just one hour’s notice; he arrived 15 minutes late.

Over the next hour Musk shared more bad news with the company. Depending on the length and severity of the recession, he said, the company could lose several billion dollars next year. He would not speculate how much runway Twitter had left. “Bankruptcy isn’t out of the question,” he said, as we were also first to report.

Around that time, someone put a poll into Twitter’s Slack channel: “Is it too early for vodka?” the poll asked. (It was a little after 1PM PT.)

Three more high-level Twitter staffers resigned after this call, in addition to the three which resigned this morning (Correction: they resigned the night before, though most staff found out in the morning). Because of the departures of legal and privacy leaders, Twitter is telling engineers to confirm compliance with FTC laws themselves. Do not do that.

In case it has not been obvious, I actually want Musk to succeed. I like Twitter. It is the only social network that has stuck for me; I have been using it daily for fifteen years. Days like today are worrisome for me, and I sympathize with the employees who are left and are understandably anxious about the future of the company and the demands now placed upon them.

There are aspects of this which should be humbling for Musk and others like him who are certain they can figure it all out. He made a purchase which he quickly regretted but was legally required to finish. In doing so, he burdened the company with a heavy debt load while winking at trolls. He says he wants to save Twitter, but it is entirely possible he is content with crashing it into the ground on his own terms and saving himself the embarrassment. There is a third way: without leadership and fractured engineering support, Twitter could simply fall apart.

I hope Musk succeeds and makes Twitter an exciting, vibrant, and safe place to spend time. But his two weeks in charge — and, in particular, the past couple of days — have done nothing to make me believe he can, nor have his weak answers to predictable questions. This experiment is not going well and investors in Musk’s other companies are taking notice. What a shambles.

Update: Robin Wheeler, one of the executives who resigned today, un-resigned, and Twitter has un-undone the “official” badges.