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Elon Musk Urged by US Senator to Better Protect US Users’ Data After Whistleblower Testimony

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Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has been urged by top US Senate Republican Chuck Grassley to conduct a threat assessment at the social media company to better protect US user data, following up on concerns raised by a whistleblower. Hacker Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a whistleblower who served as Twitter’s head of security until his firing in January, testified in September that some Twitter employees were concerned the Chinese government would be able to collect data on the company’s users.

In a letter to Musk dated Tuesday and released on Wednesday, Grassley, the top Republican on the US Judiciary Committee, asked Twitter to perform a threat assessment “of Twitter’s current security posture and systems to better protect user data and privacy.” He also asked for the committee staff to be briefed on the findings.

Thx to a whistleblower we know Twitter has widespread security & privacy issues Now that Elon Musk has taken over he has opportunity to fix these problems where his predecessor failed

— Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley) November 23, 2022

“Twitter collects vast amounts of data on American citizens. Americans have a vested interest in ensuring that their private data is secure, and that the companies which they have entrusted with their private data have not been infiltrated by foreign agents,” Grassley wrote.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Zatko previously alleged that Twitter had misled the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the company’s security measures as part of an agreement in 2011. The hacker also claimed that Twitter had serious security flaws affecting the platform, and that one or more employees were working on behalf of foreign governments.

He had testified that a foreign agent could use malware to steal Twitter users personal information, and use that to gain access to sensitive data on the person’s phone, among other dangers.

The correspondence reiterated some concerns raised in a prior letter sent by Grassley and Democrat Dick Durbin in September to former chief executive Parag Agrawal, who led the company until October, when Musk took it over in a $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,59,430 crore) deal.

According to Grassley, Agrawal did not respond to the letter, citing litigation with Musk.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Elon Musk Says Twitter Will Add Encrypted DMs, Payments; Claims Signups at All-Time High as Advertisers Leave

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Twitter Chief Executive Elon Musk says new user signups to the social media platform are at an “all-time high”, as he struggles with a mass exodus of advertisers and users fleeing to other platforms over concerns about verification and hate speech.

Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of November 16, up 66 percent compared to the same week in 2021, Musk said in a tweet late on Saturday.

He also said that user active minutes were at a record high, averaging nearly 8 billion active minutes per day in the last seven days as of November 15, an increase of 30 percent in comparison to the same week last year.

Hate speech impressions decreased as of November 13 compared to October of last year.

Reported impersonations on the platform spiked earlier this month, before and in wake of the Twitter Blue launch, according to Musk.

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Musk, who also runs rocket company SpaceX, brain-chip startup Neuralink and tunneling firm the Boring Company, has said that buying Twitter would speed up his ambition to create an “everything app” called X.

Musk’s “Twitter 2.0 The Everything App” will have features like encrypted direct messages (DMs), longform tweets and payments, according to the tweet.

In another tweet early on Sunday, Musk said he sees a “path to Twitter exceeding a billion monthly users in 12 to 18 months.”

Advertisers on Twitter, including big companies such as General Motors, Mondelez International, Volkswagen AG, have paused advertising on the platform, as they grapple with the new boss.

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Musk has said that Twitter was experiencing a “massive drop in revenue” from the advertiser retreat, blaming a coalition of civil rights groups that has been pressing the platform’s top advertisers to take action if he did not protect content moderation.

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Activists are urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the social media platform after Musk lifted the ban on tweets by former US president Donald Trump.

Hundreds of Twitter employees are believed to have quit the beleaguered company, following an ultimatum by Musk that staffers sign up for “long hours at high intensity,” or leave.

The company earlier in November laid off half its workforce, with teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics being gutted, as well as some product and engineering teams.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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What Are WhatsApp Polls and How Do You Use Them? All You Need to Know

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WhatsApp’s new features and updates which have rolled out over the past few months have made the messaging experience much better. Now, WhatsApp users can even create polls in personal and group chats to see what their friends and contacts think. Both iOS and Android users can use this feature. A poll could help take the opinions of group members on any topic or idea, or could be useful for making plans quickly. Just like your chats, the responses you send to a poll question will be protected by end-to-end encryption. At the moment, Telegram and Facebook Messenger allow group polls. You can easily start using this new WhatsApp feature on your smartphone.

Here is How to Create a WhatsApp Poll

Step 1: Update WhatsApp to the latest version

Step 2: Open the private or group chat in which you want to create a poll

Step 3: For Android, tap on the paper clip icon at the bottom of the screen. For iOS, select the plus (+) icon at the bottom of the screen.

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Step 4: Select ‘Poll’

Step 5: Type the question you want to ask, along with response options

Step 6: Finally, tap on ‘Send’ to share the poll

Up to twelve response options can be offered to recipients for each poll, and these are not time-bound. Users can also see the responses selected by others by tapping on ‘View votes’.

The Meta-owned messaging app has recently worked on several updates, rolling out new tools including the Call Link feature, the ability to message yourself, and Companion Mode. While some of these new features are not available to all users at the moment, WhatsApp does plan to make them accessible to everyone in the coming days. The most recent and talked-about feature apart from WhatsApp polls is Communities. These allow users to have separate groups under one “Community” to organize large conversations.

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“With Communities, we’re aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else. The alternatives available today require trusting apps or software companies with a copy of their messages – and we think they deserve the higher level of security provided by end-to-end encryption,” stated WhatsApp in a blog post.

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Elon Musk Calls Donald Trump’s Twitter Ban ‘Grave Mistake’, Condemns Violence

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Twitter’s ban on then President Donald Trump after January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters was a “grave mistake” that had to be corrected, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Friday, although he also stated that incitement to violence would continue to be prohibited on Twitter.

“I’m fine with Trump not tweeting. The important thing is that Twitter correct a grave mistake in banning his account, despite no violation of the law or terms of service,” Musk said in a tweet. “Deplatforming a sitting President undermined public trust in Twitter for half of America.”

Last week, Musk announced the reactivation of Trump’s account after a slim majority voted in a Twitter poll in favor of reinstating Trump, who said, however, that he had no interest in returning to Twitter. He added he would stick with his own social media site Truth Social, the app developed by Trump Media & Technology Group.

Republican Trump, who 10 days ago announced he was running for election again in 2024, was banned on January 8, 2021, from Twitter under its previous owners.

At the time, Twitter said it permanently suspended him because of the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the Capitol. The results of the November 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden were being certified by lawmakers when the Capitol was attacked after weeks of false claims by Trump that he had won.

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Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other sites to falsely claim there had been widespread voter fraud, and had urged supporters to march on the Capitol in Washington to protest.

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The attack is being investigated by US prosecutors and a congressional committee.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday on Musk’s statement that Trump did not violate any Twitter terms of service when his account was suspended.

Earlier on Friday, Musk tweeted that calling for violence or incitement to violence on Twitter would result in suspension, after saying on Thursday that Twitter would provide a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts that had not broken the law or engaged in spam.

Replying to a tweet, Musk said it was “very concerning” that Twitter had taken no action earlier to remove some accounts related to the far-left Antifa movement. In response to another tweet asking if Musk considered the statement “trans people deserve to die” as worthy of suspension from the platform, the billionaire said: “Absolutely”.

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Change and chaos have marked Musk’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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