Hackers and regulators: Elon Musk’s new rivals on Twitter

Hackers and regulators: Elon Musk's new rivals on Twitter

“No matter how big Musk’s vision is, you need a team with superior skills and a highly qualified workforce to (re)build a viable platform and to respond to the obligations of the European Union,” Tromble added to the interview. AFP.

Alongside engineers, legal and regulatory teams are needed to keep user data safe from dangerous postings.

“In reality, there is almost uncountable what Twitter has to think about the security of its users,” Tromble opined.

Cybersecurity issues range from hackers to lone wolves, organized groups to state-orchestrated attacks.

There are also “bad actors” who come together in a kind of gang to attack specific targets on Twitter, in a tactic known as “dog piling”.

“Right now, one of my biggest fears is that layoffs or even large-scale resignations will mean that that already imperfect system will go backwards,” Tromble said.

Losing employees of the teams that fight intrusive demands from the police or government agencies that request user data means that the accumulated experience goes with them as well, he added.

The tweet problem

Musk is earning a wake-up call for his laissez-faire approach to moderating content, said Emma Llanso of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Although Musk announced on Friday that he will form a committee to evaluate the social network’s future policy on posts and the reinstatement of blocked accounts.

US law is permissive about letting platforms decide their content policies and take any responsibility for what their users post, but that could change soon, Llanso said.

The Supreme Court of the United States, in a decision that could have different scopes, is about to hear two cases that challenge the legal immunity of Internet companies regarding what their users publish.

In its decision, the high court could reduce the immunity of social media companies and hold them accountable for what they offer their users as “recommended” content.

“There are many content classification decisions that the algorithm must make when determining which tweets the user sees,” explains Llanso.

“Does that make it recommended content?” he asks.

Musk has said he wants to rely more on software and less on people to moderate content.

Among the cases, the Supreme Court will also consider whether states can dictate content rules to social networks.

And while there is currently a strong foundation for Musk to have his own way with content moderation in the US, the laws are more restrictive in Europe and other regions.

“Many countries around the world are considering tightening their policies against the wide margin of maneuver that social network services have today to establish content policies to suit them,” Llanso warned.

Thus, a mosaic of several moderation laws would force Twitter to determine in real time what is shown and where.

When Musk had not yet served 24 hours at the head of Twitter, there were already characters with bad intentions testing the limits of the social network, Tromble pointed out.

“And when hate speech, doxxing (posting private or identifying information for malicious purposes), and bullying slip through the cracks, real damage happens.”

Even if there are no legal consequences for allowing Twitter to misstep, there are business consequences, said India McKinney, director of federal affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“People are looking for a place to go,” McKinney says of some users who are already considering alternatives to Twitter. “That’s someone’s chance, that’s for sure.”

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Written by Editor TLN

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