Since Musk’s takeover, Twitter news has been … interesting. But there does look to be some good news today, as the company aims to begin replacing engineers and set itself some new goals …
A combination of layoffs and resignations saw Twitter lose at least two-thirds of its workforce almost overnight. There were many concerns about the loss of engineers in particular, with experts pointing to the myriad ways in which the platform could fall over without the maintenance work quietly going on in the background.
So far, the only major visible failure has been the copyright infringement detection system, with pranksters taking advantage of this to tweet entire movies as a series of two-minute clips.
Musk had initially seemed to believe the service would be fine with a skeleton staff, but The Verge reports that he is now hiring.
During an all-hands meeting with Twitter employees today, Musk said that the company is done with layoffs and actively recruiting for roles in engineering and sales and that employees are encouraged to make referrals, according to two people who attended and a partial recording obtained by The Verge. His comments were made the same day that an unspecified wave of cuts hit Twitter’s sales department, which has lost almost all of its senior leadership since Musk took over.
One new hire – though only for 12 weeks – has been former iPhone hacker George Hotz, aka Geohot. It’s an interesting hire, given that Musk hasn’t exactly been a fan of Hotz in the past, but Hotz tweeted that he was up for an internship, and Musk responded positively. The Verge reports that the deal is now agreed, with Hotz working on fixing Twitter’s notoriously poor search functionality.
As for former Twitter engineers, there is no shortage of opportunities for them, reports Reuters, as other tech companies are specifically wooing them.
Voice and video chat planned
We’d already heard that Musk planned to make direct messages end-to-end encrypted, bringing the platform in line with most existing messaging services, and The Verge says that this isn’t the only planned improvement to DMs.
Framed by presentation slides titled “Twitter 2.0” at Twitter’s San Fransisco headquarters on Monday, Musk told employees that the company would encrypt DMs and work to add encrypted video and voice calling between accounts, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Verge.
Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike is reportedly willing to help with the encryption work.
Undisclosed plan to fix impersonations with Twitter Blue
One of the most chaotic developments under Musk’s ownership was the decision to make verification available to anyone willing to pay $8 for the privilege. This was against the advice of his Trust and Safety execs – who were later fired or resigned – and of course gave free reign to trolls, pranksters, and scammers.
Musk had previously said that Twitter Blue would return on November 29, but gave no clue as to how the company would stop it being abused. The Verge reports that this date may now slip, with Musk stating that Blue won’t restart until “we’re confident about significant impersonations not happening.”
Again, though, we have no idea how Musk plans to prevent impersonations. One possibility would be to verify identities using credit cards, but anyone can use a service like Revolut to create disposable virtual cards in any name they like.
Twitter alternatives in demand
Mastodon has so far proven the most popular of these. With fake accounts particularly problematic for journalists, many have The New York Times reports that Journa.host on Mastodon is hoping to become a reliable alternative.
TechCrunch reports that Tumblr is also adding support for ActivityPub, another Mastodon-powered platform.
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