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If Musk Begins Firing Twitter's Safety Crew, Run

Elon Musk is shopping for Twitter for $44 billion after the least attractive will-they-won’t-they saga of all time. And whereas Musk attempted to reassure advertisers yesterday that “Twitter clearly can’t change into a free-for-all hellscape, the place something will be mentioned with no penalties,” the acquisition raises sensible questions on what the social community’s almost 240 million energetic customers can anticipate from the platform sooner or later.

Chief amongst these issues are questions on how Twitter’s stances on consumer safety and privateness could change within the Musk period. A variety of prime Twitter executives had been fired final night time, together with CEO Parag Agrawal, the corporate’s normal counsel Sean Edgett, and Vijaya Gadde, the corporate’s head of authorized coverage, belief, and security who was recognized for working to guard consumer knowledge from regulation enforcement requests and court docket orders. Gadde ran the committee that ousted Donald Trump from Twitter in January 2021 following the Capitol riots. Musk, in the meantime, mentioned in Could that he would wish to reinstate Trump on the platform and known as the previous US president’s elimination “morally dangerous.” 

This afternoon, Musk wrote that “Twitter shall be forming a content material moderation council with extensively various viewpoints. No main content material choices or account reinstatements will occur earlier than that council convenes.”

Content material moderation has actual implications for consumer safety on any platform, notably when it entails hate speech and violent misinformation. However different matters, together with the privateness of Twitter direct messages, safety from illegal authorities knowledge requests, and the general high quality of Twitter’s safety protections, will loom massive within the coming weeks. That is notably true in gentle of current accusations from former Twitter chief safety officer Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, who described Twitter as having grossly insufficient digital safety defenses in an August whistleblower report.

“Personally, I don’t know what to do, particularly if you take Mudge’s whistleblower grievance into consideration,” says Whitney Merrill, a privateness and knowledge safety lawyer and former Federal Commerce Fee lawyer. “I’m simply not placing any delicate knowledge or knowledge I’d like to remain confidential into DMs.”

Twitter offers a tool for downloading all the info it holds in your account, and reviewing your personal trove is an effective first step in understanding what data the corporate has linked to you. It is unclear, although, precisely how a lot management you presently have over deleting this knowledge, and the insurance policies may proceed to evolve below the Musk administration. Twitter DMs, for instance, solely provide the choice to “Delete for You,” that means delete messages from your personal account however not for different customers. 

Extra broadly, Twitter’s present coverage on account deactivation merely says, “If you don’t log again into your account for the 30 days following the deactivation, your account shall be completely deactivated.  As soon as completely deactivated, all data related together with your account is now not obtainable in our Manufacturing Instruments.” It’s unclear what precisely this implies by way of long-term knowledge retention and, once more, insurance policies could change sooner or later.


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