I've been a fan of Project Veritas for quite some time, but now they have gone to the next level and exposed how Twitter abuses the data people entrust to it. In this blog I will break down what Twitter and most certainly other big data "Krakens" like Facebook, Google (and its parent company Alphabet), Microsoft, Apple and many more do with the data users grant them. This episode focuses on the first of the undercover videos that Project Veritas has filmed of Twitter employees telling in what they would never want their users to hear.
Note that the actual video starts at about 01:49. You can find it here
Embedded (please go to 01:49):
The first person speaking, Clay Haynes (the name isn't even a joke), employed as senior network security engineer of Twitter, tells the Project Veritas undercover journalist what he does at Twitter. After getting set up by the undercover journalist, he reveals that because of the fact that Twitter has determined his tweets newsworthy (which I would interpret as "too much in the spotlight to simply vanish without anyone asking questions") they have to leave it up. He goes on:
We're more than happy to help the DoJ in their little investigation
and when asked how
Basically, giving them every single tweed that he's posted.
The "We" in the sentence as far as I can tell either refers to his fellow employees or even Twitter administration as a whole. This indeed sounds like they are actively supplying the Mueller witch hunt (more info here) with info. After this, in another meeting, Haynes continues:
We can absolutely look at every single message, every single tweet, whatever you log into [...]
The last part seems to be a reference to common tracking techniques: IP references, fingerprinting and cookies. In short it works like this: Whenever you access a website that server gets the IP of whoever asks for the website. Unless you take steps to prevent this it's yours. Fingerprints are calculated from your computer and browser settings, software and hardware and compiled into an almost certainly unique signature that will always identify your current device. In time, multiple devices can be assigned the same real-world person(s). Cookies can be signed with a unique ID and saved on your hard drive. The ID will always reveal who you are when called upon, no matter the website. These are commonly employed and cross-referenced to create a database of every bit of data that is possible to accumulate on you and everyone else, even those not at Twitter. Haynes continues (same sentence):
[...] what profile pictures you upload, what profile pictures you thought you were going to do.
This tells us that not only does Twitter keep all its pictures that it is supposed to have, it also claws any that you are willing to upload and NEVER FORGETS ANYTHING. At a later time he reveals that the same applies for deleted information and I think it also applies to half-written tweets and messages that were in the end discarded and never sent or posted. the same applies for messages, tweets and all other information as well. It could even go as far as to open a new connection and upload files in the background while still selecting the one to upload as these are usually among other private pictures. As the conversation continues, when asked if he worked with the DoJ, he denied all comments which, in memory his previous statements about sharing all of Trump's data, does seem like he is hiding something.
After this, a new recording is showed. Right at the start Haynes reveals that
[...] what we can do on our side is actually very terrifying.
When asked why he answers:
We have full access to every single person's account, every single direct message, deleted direct messages, deleted tweets.
Full access for admins and super-admins is not surprising, but as stated before, remember: Twitter NEVER FORGETS ANYTHINGS, I'm sorry I have to stress this, but in this day and age, if you do something stupid at the age of 10 and it lands on any social network, it will haunt you your entire life and people in the future will be able to look at it even after you're long gone. Haynes continues:
I can tell you exactly who logged in from where, what username and password, when they changed their password.
He even has access to all the account data that should ideally be hidden from anyone. In a good system even the highest of admins do not have access to the passwords of the rest. They may reset or change it, but should not see it. Clearly this is a violation of administrative duty as it is taught in any decent institution when it comes to multi-user systems. Haynes continues answering the question on why Twitter keeps all this information:
In case we ever get subpoenaed.
Assuming that Mueller will subpoena Twitter, they not only intend on complying, they want to go further and deliver anything and everything they have on the president. With full user account access they could even go as far and plant things if they wanted to. It should be trivial with this level of access to create some fake never sent messages to for example Russians, talking about next orders from Putin. Haynes continues:
Mostly for law enforcement and it also helps us detect a pattern of history.
This goes into the true purpose of data gathering: Predicting what the user is going to do before they even know it themselves. Finding patterns of behavior and stimulating or suppressing them in order to nudge the users into certain directions. Haynes himself describes it perfectly:
It's very, very dangerous. Also, very, very creepy Big Brother-ish.
Next Haynes talks a bit about himself:
"I'm a bleeding-heart liberal. I think it comes with the territory.
Assuming he means Twitter, maybe even the upper levels of Twitter with "territory", this reveals that others there are just like him and would do the exact same things. He supports this by later admitting that
He (Trump) is dangerous, I don't like him and he's a terrible human being and I want to get rid of him.
This tells us a lot more about him. He's clearly motivated, and again reminding ourselves about the comments of sharing all data with the DoJ, even in the case of his job in trying to unseat Donald Trump. But here is where he lets out internal information about the others he works with:
In fact, we've had internal reviews about that and we... I wasn't the only one that basically said that if we let that maniac... Something along the lines of, if we let this maniac continue, we would have a hard time finding a new job.
I can only imagine what it's like in Twitter HQ: "Oh, did you see what Trump tweeted? He's such a bigoted Nazi!" "Oh yeah, I wish we could just remove and imprison him, but sadly if we just ban him on Twitter people are going to complain". Oh, to be a fly on these walls. With a microphone and recorder. I can only imagine too how hard it will be for him, once he's fired, to find another job in an economy where "I'm liberal, I hate Trump" doesn't get you hired but instead you'll be seen as the one who put millions of people under surveillance. Because his next statement not only shows that he himself isn't proud of himself, but also that he does very well know what he is doing:
[...] I don't like being a part of the machine that is contributing to America's downfall.
At this state, this is how I would characterize Haynes. Keep in mind that I don't claim knowing him inside and out from just a few minutes on video, but this is how I see him:
Clay Haynes is a prime example of "nomen est omen". He is afraid of all the power, and he to a certain degree knows what Twitter is really intending to do (the downfall of America), but he goes along with it for most likely the money and the power to impose his "bleeding-heart liberal" beliefs onto all the users of Twitter. The rest of the staff he works with seem overwhelmingly similar to his set of minds, though of cause there will be differences. As far as Haynes is considered, I would call him as either a useful idiot if he is not entirely aware and acts out of belief that he in fact can justify his means by their end, or simply one of the lower-level controller-elites that want to screw all others over and take control.