Who spilled Elon’s secret sauce? Twitter’s source code is published ONLINE – forcing Musk’s firm to file a lawsuit to reveal who was behind the extraordinary security breach
- Twitter on Friday filed a lawsuit seeking to subpoena GitHub to reveal who is behind the account ‘FreeSpeechEnthusiast’, which published source code online
- The New York Times on Sunday reported the suit, and said that the source code appeared to have been online since at least January, in a serious security breach
- Source code is the programming data behind any website: it is created by a computer programmer, and tells the site how to work
Twitter‘s source code has been posted online in an embarrassing and potentially damaging security breach, which forced the social media company to immediately take legal action.
The Elon Musk-owned firm on Friday filed a lawsuit seeking a subpoena to force GitHub to reveal who posted parts of the code online.
GitHub, a site for computer programmers to share ideas and collaborate on projects, has taken the code segments down. Source code is the ‘DNA’ of a website: the programming behind it, which shows how it operates. It is considered intellectual property.
It was posted by someone using the name ‘FreeSpeechEnthusiast’ – a seeming reference to Musk himself, who declared that he was a ‘free speech absolutist’.
Analysts believe that the code could have been posted online by a disgruntled former employee.
Elon Musk, pictured on January 24, admitted on Friday the company was currently worth less than half of what he paid for it in October. On Sunday it emerged that the company is dealing with a leak of its entire source code
The code was posted online in January by ‘FreeSpeechEnthusiast’. Musk has launched legal action to try and find the person behind the account
Musk bought the company in October for $44 billion: since then, 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 employees have either been laid off or resigned.
News of the lawsuit and source code leak was reported on Sunday by The New York Times.
They said the code appears to have been live on GitHub since at least January.
It is unclear what parts were shared.
Source code tells the website or platform how to behave. Coders, who write the code, are directing every aspect of a site or program.
Source code is protected in the same way as a ‘literary work’, which means it is copyrightable from the moment that the first line of code is created.
It is seen as the coveted magic formula for a website.
It came as Musk tweeted on March 17 that he wanted to make part of the source code – the part relating to recommended tweets – public.
‘Twitter will open source all code used to recommend tweets on March 31st,’ he said.
‘Our ‘algorithm’ is overly complex & not fully understood internally. People will discover many silly things , but we’ll patch issues as soon as they’re found!
‘We’re developing a simplified approach to serve more compelling tweets, but it’s still a work in progress. That’ll also be open source.
‘Providing code transparency will be incredibly embarrassing at first, but it should lead to rapid improvement in recommendation quality. Most importantly, we hope to earn your trust.’
Musk has admitted that the company is now worth less than half the $44 billion he paid for it
The New York Times reported that Twitter’s bosses were only made aware of the security breach recently.
Sources told the paper that the executives were worried the publicly-available code would enable hackers to take down the site, or obtain information about those using it.
And the news came as Musk admitted, in an email to staff, that the company was struggling.
He said it was worth roughly $20 billion – less than half of what he paid for it.
He said ‘radical changes’ at the company, including mass layoffs and cost cutting, were necessary to avoid bankruptcy and streamline operations.
‘Twitter is being reshaped rapidly,’ Musk wrote in the email seen by The New York Times.
He added that the company could be thought of as ‘an inverse start-up’ and that he believed Twitter could someday be worth $250 billion.
Musk is yet to tweet about the source leak.