Twitter executives reportedly think an ex-employee leaked the company's source code under the name 'FreeSpeechEnthusiast'
Twitter is leading a manhunt for a GitHub user who posted some of the company's source code online.
Twitter initiated a subpoena, asking for identifying information of the user, known as "FreeSpeechEnthusiast."
Some Twitter execs think the leaker is an employee who left last year, The New York Times reported.
Parts of the code used to run Twitter were leaked online, according to a court filing from the social media company.
On Friday, Elon Musk's company asked the court clerk to sign off on a subpoena to Github, seeking identifying information of the user who posted the sections of code, as well as information on individuals who downloaded it off the platform.
The user, or users, identified themselves as "FreeSpeechEnthusiast" on the code-hosting platform, the subpoena said. The username appears to be a nod at Musk, who has called himself a "free speech absolutist" and repeatedly said he plans to make Twitter a "digital town square." The legal request was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California and viewed by Insider.
The social media company also submitted a request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) directly to GitHub on Friday. The software collaboration platform told Insider it does not generally comment on decisions to remove content, but The New York Times reported GitHub removed the code the same day the DMCA was filed.
The user with the "FreeSpeechEnthusiast" moniker appears to still have an active account on GitHub with about 63 followers, though they have only posted on the site once in the past year, on January 3, 2023, according to the user profile on GitHub.
The code was public for at least a few months, per the Times. The Times reported that executives are concerned the leak could give hackers enough information to steal user data or even take down the site. Twitter has been investigating the leak, and the executives looking into the issue believe that the individual who shared parts of the source code is a former employee who left the company last year, the Times reported, citing two people with knowledge of the manhunt.
Twitter and Musk have not commented publicly on the matter.
Musk bought the company on October 27, and immediately began cleaning house — firing Twitter's former CEO and CFO the same night he took over and laying off over half of the company's workforce in the following weeks.
In the past, Musk has said he plans to make some of Twitter's code public. Most recently, he said he would open source Twitter's code for recommending tweets by March 31.
"Providing code transparency will be incredibly embarrassing at first, but it should lead to rapid improvement in recommendation quality," Musk tweeted on March 17. "Most importantly, we hope to earn your trust."
Read The New York Times' full story in its website.
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