On Monday, conservative activist and filmmaker James O’Keefe published undercover footage of Twitter engineers alleging the social network has hundreds of employees reading “everything you post online” — including direct messages.
But according to Twitter, these claims are factually incorrect and misleadingly portrayed by O’Keefe’s media organization Project Veritas.
The undercover video shows Twitter engineer Clay Haynes telling a Project Veritas activist that hundreds of employees have seemingly unrestricted access to Twitter users’ private data. “There’s teams dedicated to it… at least, three or four hundred people,” Haynes is heard saying on camera. “They’re paid to look at dick pics.”
Twitter disputes these claims. “We do not proactively review DMs. Period,” a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “A limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes, and we enforce strict access protocols for those employees.”
Twitter did not answer questions about the number of employees who have such access or the specifics of precautions it takes to protect sensitive user data.
A former senior Twitter employee echoed the company’s comment, observing that the claims in Monday’s Project Veritas video were “technically accurate to a degree, but exaggerated for effect by drunk idiots.” The former employee claimed that the group of engineers able to view such sensitive data is “pretty small” and that it is only permitted access “in response to a report (i.e. ‘so and such is harassing me via DM’).”
Two former senior Twitter employees also noted that the bulk of moderation work is conducted algorithmically — in part due to the number of reports Twitter processes daily. In the Project Veritas video, a Twitter engineer seems to confirm this.
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SOURCE: Buzzfeed News, Charlie Warzel