Project Veritas, an investigative journalism initiative by journalist James O’Keefe, has revealed disturbing data about Twitter’s practices in relation to the privacy of its users.
Twitter creates a user profile and sells it to advertisers
In a video published yesterday and recorded with a hidden camera, Project Veritas shows several Twitter engineers recognizing that they can access the private messages of their users, even those that have been theoretically deleted by them. The engineers of the American company also admit that Twitter analyzes this information to create a «virtual profile» of its users and sell them to advertisers.
They say they can not protect the user if that information falls into the wrong hands
Panay Singh, a Twitter engineer who works with direct messaging, says in one of the recordings: «Everything you send is stored on my server.» And he says you can not remove it from him. The content collected includes, according to Singh, «all your sex messages,» including photos of sexual content. And he brags about it this way: «all the girls you’ve been fucking with are now on my server.» The engineer jokes about his ability to access private information: «I’m going to send it to your wife, he will use it in your divorce», and he comments that «what happens is that when you write things or when you publish images online, they never disappear.» And in addition, this information is treated by the company as a means of obtaining benefits: «Even after sending them, people are analyzing it, to see what they are interested in, to see what they are talking about and selling that data … Everything. Anything you post online.» This information is confirmed in another recording by Mihai Florea, a software engineer on Twitter. The most disturbing is what reveals Conrado Miranda, a former Twitter engineer, when he says that «there is no way» to protect users if that information falls into the wrong hands.
A previous video showed the possible political use of these data
Clay Haynes, another Twitter engineer dedicated to security issues, describes the power that the company has thanks to the access to the private messages of its users: «It is a creeping Big Brother». The political implications of this invasion of privacy were exposed on January 10 in a previous video of Project Veritas, in which Haynes implied that Twitter would be delivering private messages and tweets deleted from the official account of Donald Trump to the Department of Justice, without at any time in the conversation indicating if such a thing is done by virtue of a court order. In that video, Haynes says: «we have full access to every single person’s account, every single direct message, deleted direct messages, deleted tweets. I can tell you exactly who logged in from where, what username and password, when they changed their password.» Haynes acknowledges that «it is very, very dangerous». The security engineer on Twitter, who confesses to being «liberal» (a term used in the US for progressives), says Trump is «dangerous» and «a terrible human being and I want to get rid of him».
It is worth wondering what confidence a company offers whose employees recognize that they can use private information to get rid of a politician because it is not to their liking. If they invade privacy for political purposes, something openly illegal, where is the limit? How does Twitter guarantee that any personal comment from a conservative politician will not be filtered by its employees to destroy the reputation of that rival? The Californian company has many explanations to give. However, and despite the seriousness of these revelations, Twitter has not yet offered any explanation, either in its official blog or any other way.
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