• The Twitter Fiasco

    It is all over the news from the past few days on how the accounts of some of the most prominent users on Twitter were hacked by some Bitcoin enthusiasts. While we sit behind our computers and smartphones, using some form of social media daily, we usually feel that our privacy and the data we share over the internet is safe. But this incident has yet again uncovered all the loopholes a typical social media website might have with the systems meant to protect your data. And even after that, these corporations claim that they have the necessary systems in place to protect our Personal Data.


    When we talk about social media, we get a picture in our mind which is usually limited to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Some people say YouTube also, but it's not a social media rather a video sharing platform. Netizens enjoy spending time over social media. Sharing locations on Facebook to sharing moments on Instagram and ranting about government policies on Twitter, this has all become a daily routine for us. But in this process, we often forget how easily we are risking all our data and letting big corporations judge us based on numbers and personal choices.


    I wrote a blog about how Twitter has become a major player in the social media arena in the past decade standing beside Facebook and Instagram. I wrote that blog to commemorate the 14th birth anniversary of Twitter. Little did I know, the time I was writing the blog, some people would have been very busy in breaking into, what might be one of the sophisticated computer networks in the world. Hackers broke into the systems of the employees of Twitter and tweeted from some of the most influential people of the world, saying that they are feeling generous and will double the amount which is sent to their bitcoin accounts. Individuals such as Jeff Bezos, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Joe Biden were among the few whose accounts were hacked.


    Twitter instantly took action when it realized that something has gone wrong, and by action I mean it temporarily suspended the accounts of all these individuals and many others, who all had a 'Blue Tick' i.e. a verified account on Twitter. Twitter has said that it has fallen prey to a well-coordinated social engineering attack on its systems. But during this entire fiasco, the flaws in Twitter's systems were brutally revealed. And this is not the first time Twitter has got exposed to such humiliation.


    Back in 2017, a disgruntled Twitter employee deactivated Donald Trump's account for a few minutes. Last year, a few of Twitter's employees were accused of spying on the government officials of Saudi Arabia. It shows how the internal systems of Twitter might be flawed and how some people might take advantage of it in the future.


    The major concern here is not how some social engineers took advantage of the lackluster security at Twitter, but how this system could be influenced and used in someone's favor in the elections. The US is on the verge of a major election and social media plays a huge role in forming the opinion of the voters. Twitter is one of the social media platforms which is known for the presence of all the celebrity politicians, journalists, and a large user base. There is a major concern of another Cambridge Analytica kind of a targeted campaigning taking place, and this time with the help of Twitter's weak security.


    The question is why Twitter hasn't been able to update its internal systems and make them strong against the attacks by hackers. Twitter is funded by Elliott Management and there sure goes a lot of money in funding the research and development departments there. According to sources, a rough amount of around $700 Million was spent last year for this purpose, so that they may train its people against such attacks. Twitter's competitors, Facebook, and Instagram have hugely succeeded in the quest of making their systems hard to break into. Not just that, Facebook had also exponentially surpassed Twitter in terms of ad technology and is minting money with the help of ads on its networks and on the other hand, Twitter has failed to take advantage of its massive user base and turn it into an ad market to make more profits. Sure the investors would not be very happy after all such money spent into R&D and witnessing an attack of this magnitude.


    Twitter should understand the need of the hour and build a rock-solid fortress with its computer networks so that they may become impossible to break into. This will help it to retain its existing user base and it would also become attractive for new users who might want to join Twitter in the future. It would also spare Twitter some of this humiliation going forward and would make it a lucrative option for the customers to show their ads on. Elliott should also take charge of the situation now so that such incidents could be avoided in the future.


    In my opinion, it was a small social engineering attack where the hackers only wanted people to deposit cryptocurrency into their accounts. Had it been something that has the potential of starting a war, the situation would have been even worse. I will write another blog on how our data which we share on various social media platforms is not invulnerable these days.

  • The Birth of Twitter

    Social Media. It is something which didn't even exist 15 years ago. And now no one can imagine their life without some sort of social media platform. Every one of us using some of the other social media platforms and while you are reading this, it is a proven fact that this blog post reached you via some sort of social media involvement only. It so important that if I ever try to circumvent the usage of social media, I would only be able to write my blog posts and wouldn't be able to circulate them to my audience. It has become so important that during the earlier days the news articles were keeping in mind the events which took place in the actual world and then they became a news piece, and now, everything that happens on the social media could anytime become a part of the news, be it a trend, or a post, or a feud between some of your film stars.


    There are many platforms that people use and in today's market, we have a lot of options on what we want to use. People generally use social media which suits their choice or the content which they think is easily digestible for them. For example, some people are generally interested in what happens in their friend circle and how their 'near and dear' are doing, use Facebook. Some people are more inclined towards sharing photographs and use Instagram as a great photo-sharing platform. While some people like to follow their favorite politicians, actors, and artists on a micro-blogging website and Twitter gives them this functionality.


    Today we are going to talk about Twitter and how it came into existence, this day, 14 years ago. Who knew back then that this project would explode in popularity and become the world's one of the most used social media platforms.


    Back in 2006, a San Francisco based podcasting company, Odeo was working on a platform where users can upload and view podcasts. This project was headed by Evan Williams, who was the founder of the very popular diary publishing platform, Blogger. Evan sold Blogger to Google worth millions of dollars and established his own company, 'Odeo' with Noah Glass. The idea behind using Odea went obsolete very quickly when Apple launched iTunes which had a great feature of podcasts.


    The team initially founded 'twttr' and the idea behind founding it was to let people share their status with their friends. The first-ever tweet sent from the website was 'just setting up twttr'.


    'Twttr' was launched for the public in July 2006 and it was still a side project of Evan's 'Odeo'. They later posed a restriction on the users to only post content which limits to 140-characters. This limit was based on the more conventional Short Messaging Services which was 160-characters during the time. It was later named to 'Twitter' and it was then regarding as a micro-blogging website.


    The use of Twitter then exploded and it quickly grew in size. More than 60,000 tweets were being sent daily just after 9 months from the day it was launched for the public. The company then grew the number of employees it had and it finally went public in November 2013. The time it went public, it was valued at around $31 Billion.


    Nowadays, people use twitter to stay updated with the events which are happening around the world. Many famous people, such as world leaders, politicians, film stars, sports personalities, etc. are all on Twitter and people use the platform to get their daily dose of entertainment and current affairs. Twitter is also a great source to get to know what is trending around the world with the help of the hashtags. Hashtags can be used along with the tweets a user sends with his account and the more such usages occur, the more trending a hashtag becomes. Hashtags help to give a very decent idea of what is trending around the world. Hashtags played a very important role during the very recent Black Civil Rights protests around the world. The hashtag BlackLivesMatter was trending around the world and it played a very important role the strengthening the movement.


    Twitter is also used to announce important policy changes by the government and people and political parties also use the platform to oppose their opponents.


    As the number of internet users is rising around the world, the usage of common platforms is sure to go up in the future. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have immense popularity among their users and are growing more in terms of the services they offer and the user base they have. As I said, who knew, that a side project by Odeo would grow so much in popularity. I am pleased to have Twitter as a great source of information and current affairs.