We're all at risk as massive security breach comes at a challenging time for Twitter

The massive security breach comes at a challenging time for the social network's co-founder.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was silent as his company's service descended into bedlam on Wednesday. As critics, commentators and journalists called on Dorsey to do something, hackers romped over the accounts of prominent Americans -- including Elon Musk, Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- and tweeted out blatant cryptocurrency scams. The corporate accounts of major companies -- Apple and Uber -- tweeted similar messages. When Twitter got control of an affected account, it didn't take long for the attackers to wrestle it back.

The company finally settled the situation after resorting to extreme measures: disabling a large chunk of the service. Dorsey's first comments came four hours after the attack started, a jarring gap for the lightning-fast pace of information consumption he helped to create.

"Tough day for us at Twitter," Dorsey tweeted. "We all feel terrible this happened."

It's never a good time to have what could be the worst day in your company's history. But for Dorsey, who's generated a cult of personality in Silicon Valley, Twitter's clumsy response comes at a particularly challenging moment. Both Twitter's role in shaping public discourse and Dorsey's handle on the company are being questioned.

With the US presidential election looming, the integrity and security of social media platforms is already under the glare of an intense spotlight. Dorsey has invited more scrutiny of Twitter by stepping out on a political limb, taking a hard stance on President Donald Trump's tweets and flagging some for misleading information and inciting violence. The move set Twitter apart from Facebook, which left Trump's posts alone. (Facebook has since reconsidered its policies). It saw Dorsey being lionized by progressives and demonized by conservatives.

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