Twitter Chief Executive, Jack Dorsey, Raises Concerns Among Employees After Month Of Crisis

Employees are worried about the future of their company after a severe hacking left many users feeling vulnerable.

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Jack Dorsey is the part-time chief executive of Twitter, a position he’s held for many years now. After years of acquiring what’s referred to as “technical debt,” Twitter has been left extremely vulnerable on the back-end, which has already led to many high-profile celebrity profiles being hacked while their followers got scammed into sending money to an undisclosed digital address. 

If you weren’t aware, this July Twitter suffered a major security breach when hackers seized control of major verified accounts that belonged to public figures and corporations such as Joe Bide, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Jess Bezos, and more. The hackers were able to tweet from all the accounts and pull off a bitcoin scam that brought in almost $200,000 from the accounts followers before Twitter regained control; but they weren’t able to do so easily. 

Twitter temporarily had to suspend all verified accounts and remove their ability to tweet for part of the day in order to regain control of the accounts, and luckily they were able to do so in time before any private information was released. The worst-case scenario for these public figures would’ve been the releasing of personal DMs and information exchanged through the app, however, this hacking acted as a major wake-up call for the company. According to media reports the individuals responsible were able to gain access to the profiles through a commonly-used tool on the app.

“The hackers had gained access to the company’s back end through an administrator tool intended to allow customer service to help users regain access to accounts to which they had forgotten the password.”

Typically, this administrator tool is managed with strict access controls for other companies such as Facebook or Instagram. Only staff members who need to use that tool for their specific job within customer service are granted access to it, however, for Twitter the username and password information to gain that access was simply stored in Slack; a commonly used business social media platform for office buildings. 

This means that anyone working at Twitter who had access to the Slack internal messaging system/channel could gain access to that information, which would then give them the ability to get into any account on the app. The specific messaging board that the hackers got this information from had more than 1,000 people in it, including some individuals who didn’t even work for Twitter. 

Allison Nixon is a chief research officer at Unit 221B, an information security company, and recently spoke with the media about how astounding it is that Dorsey allowed this very private information to be so accessible to so many, especially considering it could give any of those 1,000 people the ability to “take over anyone’s account from virtually anywhere.”

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“Less than two years ago some contractors made a kind of game out of creating bogus help-desk inquiries that allowed them to peek into celebrity accounts, including Beyonce’s, to track the stars’ personal data.”

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According to former and current staff members, Twitter moves at a much slower rate than other major social media platforms like Facebook. For example, when Twitter announced it would be expanding it’s character limit from 140 to 280, many didn’t realize that that change took staff members two full years to accomplish on the back end. Many of the employees blame this slow pace on Twitter’s “technical debt.” 

Technical debt refers to the process of rewriting older software to improve the app, while simultaneously slowing down more integral functioning as an indirect result of those improvements. Employees also believe that since Dorsey, their chief executive, has now been splitting his time between Twitter and his other app Square, things have just been running at a slower rate.

One employee claimed that “Jack doesn’t like to micromanage” which makes it difficult for employees to understand who really has the most authority in the company’s hierarchy, especially during a crisis like a mass hacking of high-profile public figures. 

Joseph Evans is a data analyst at Enders Analysis who also spoke with the media about the lack of clarity in terms of Dorsey’s real role at Twitter. “Big tech has always promoted the idea of culture flowing from one or two people at the top. The idea of boy-genius messiahs helped them raise money on the way up, and I think there has to be accountability on the way down.” The accountability Evans is specifically referring to  the many incidents where Twitter refused to delete anti-semetic and racists posts from highly-followed profiles. 

Experts claim Dorsey and Twitter in general needs to go back to the basics and do a complete overhaul on the way they run their app on the back-end. The discrepancies within the company environment itself, however, is an issue that employees are constantly battling and has become a common theme among most social media platforms.