Court filings have revealed that Twitter’s source code was recently leaked online — and that the social media platform is now on the hunt for the person responsible, after subpoenaing GitHub for more information.
CEO Elon Musk claimed earlier this month that he has plans to release parts of Twitter’s source code anyway, but only aspects that relate to the algorithm determining which users’ tweets are recommended. This leak was not what he had in mind.
Twitter Source Code Leaked
Last week, it was revealed in filings to the U.S. District Court that Twitter has been legally pressuring Microsoft-owned coding repository GitHub to provide information on a user that leaked the company’s copyrighted source code on their site.
Twitter's lawyers demanded that GitHub “identify the alleged infringer or infringers”, and remove Twitter’s code from its site. The source code was taken down. There's little additional public information about the proceedings available.
“GitHub does not generally comment on decisions to remove content,” a spokesperson for the platform told the BBC.
“However, in the interest of transparency, we share every DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] takedown request publicly,” they added.
The account name of the leaker – “FreeSpeechEnthusiast” – does feel like a not-so-veiled reference to Elon Musk’s self-professed absolutism when it comes to first amendment rights and internet censorship.
Let Me Leak My Own “Embarrassing” Source Code
Elon Musk has previously suggested that he will reveal parts of Twitter’s source code that are used to construct the algorithm that recommends Tweets, in the name of improving a part of the platform that is “not fully understood internally”.
“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 said in a March 17 tweet.
At present, it is unclear whether this is part of the source code contained in the GitHub leak.
Twitter in Tatters?
The leaking of Twitter's source code is the latest installment of a seemingly never-ending saga of chaos that has left the company hamstrung by controversy, since takeover talks began in 2022.
According to the social media platform’s billionaire owner, who also founded Tesla and SpaceX, the site is now only worth around $20 billion, less than half of the $44 billion fee Musk paid for it back in October of last year.
Around half of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers have now halted operations on the platform, and four of the top 10 biggest spenders have backed off, data from digital marketing firm Pathmatics suggests.
Whether Twitter can convince advertisers to come back and resume spending remains to be seen.