Twitter announced that parts of its source code was leaked online, making it potentially vulnerable to hackers, and the platform’s officials suspect a disgruntled insider is to blame.
The social media company on Friday notified GitHub, an online hosting service for software development, that it had allowed Twitter code to be posted in violation of copyright law, The New York Times reported. Twitter filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California asking it to order GitHub to identify the person behind the leak and anyone else involved in the caper, the Times reported.
GitHub responded to the Twitter filing by asking for a description of the copyrighted code that had allegedly been infringed, prompting Twitter to say the material was “proprietary source code for Twitter’s platform and internal tools.” The platform acknowledged that it had no measures in place to control access to the content.
The source code is the critical software behind Twitter’s programming functions. Threat analyst Brett Callow told the Times that the public posting of Twitter’s source code could help hackers by making “it a little bit easier and speedier to probe for vulnerabilities.”
GitHub took the posting down on Friday, but it had reportedly been up for months. It was not known when Twitter became aware that the code had been posted before bringing it to GitHub’s attention. In the Friday filing, Twitter asked GitHub to save any data that could be relevant to determining who was behind the act, including contact info, IP addresses or other information.
According to the Times, the person who leaked Twitter’s source code apparently self-identified as “FreeSpeechEnthusiast” on GitHub.
Twitter owner Elon Musk has said he intends to make critical parts of the company’s code “open source,” or accessible to the public by the end of this month.
“Twitter will open source all code used to recommend tweets on March 31st. … We’re developing a simplified approach to serve more compelling tweets, but it’s still a work in progress,” Musk tweeted on March 17. “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.”
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…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2023
Musk has slashed Twitter’s workforce since acquiring the company in October. By the end of February, Twitter had reduced its staff from 7,500 to fewer than 2,000 employees. Musk said Friday that despite the company’s worth having dropped to $20 billion, he thought it could be worth $250 billion in the future.