This week’s security hack of blue check accounts on Twitter, used to post Bitcoin scam ads, were the least of Twitter’s problems exposed on Wednesday.
The hackers also released screenshots taken from an employee dashboard that exposed Twitter’s long-denied practice of using internal systems to keep “blacklists” for users it deems undesirable.
The screenshot showed that Twitter allegedly marks user accounts with tags such as “Trends Blacklist,” “Search Blacklist” and “Compromised.”
Citing its own privacy violations, Twitter has since reportedly scrambled to cleanse the site of posts featuring the screenshots.
Twitter responded by claiming that it has always been forthright about the fact that tweets and accounts are monitored for “quality” and can be prevented from trending if found to be creating a “bad search experience.”
However, the screenshots suggest that this process can be done manually, opening the door to potential abuse against those with opinions contrary to Twitter management, ie. half the country.
But proof that Twitter is shadow-banning certain users from their freedom of expression on the platform also substantiates
Twitters admin panel has a button to “blacklist trends.”
So yeah twitter lied, they manually edit trends. The ones advocating violence are kept up. By their choice.
They aren’t a platform. They are a publisher.
Abolish Section 230.
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) July 16, 2020
Wednesday’s attack also alarmed lawmakers responsible for oversight of Silicon Valley’s massive tech companies.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey requesting more information, with questions that include, “Did this attack threaten the security of the President’s own Twitter account?”
“A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security,” Hawley wrote.
During the hack, fake posts from more than a dozen popular accounts, including Barrack Obama, Elon Musk and Joe Biden, forced the company to race to delete the messages and lockout a much larger network of users as it tried to secure the site.
All hacked accounts were “verified” with blue checks and posts were sent out instructing followers to send bitcoin to a specific address in order to receive free bitcoin.
In response, Twitter Support posted the following on its official account page, “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”
“We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf,” the company continued. “We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it.”
The scam allegedly netted approximately $114,000 in Bitcoin from more than a dozen popular users
In order to quickly rectify the problem, Twitter deleted the messages requesting the account information and as a precaution locked out a much larger number of users in an attempt to secure the site.
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