Former President Donald J. Trump declared on Wednesday evening that he would start a “media powerhouse.” Its flagship operation would be Truth Social, a Twitter-like social network that would “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” he said in a statement.
Within two hours, hackers had gained access to a private version of the social network, creating fake accounts for Mr. Trump; the far-right personality Stephen K. Bannon; Ron Watkins, the QAnon conspiracy theorist; and Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, who barred Mr. Trump from Twitter after his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Using a false “donaldjtrump” account, hackers posted images of defecating pigs, wrote expletive-laced rants aimed at Mr. Dorsey and inquired about the whereabouts of the former first lady Melania Trump. Images of the hackers’ handiwork were circulated on other social media platforms.
In interviews on Thursday, the hackers, who are affiliated with Anonymous, the loose hacking collective, said the effort was part of their “online war against hate.”
After a several-year hiatus, Anonymous has re-emerged as a digital force against the far right. The collective recently took down a Texas Republican website after the passage of an anti-abortion bill, replacing the site with a Planned Parenthood fund-raiser. And last month, Anonymous was behind a breach of Epik, an internet services company popular with the far right, dumping 220 gigabytes of data, including personal details of its customers.
In exposing the innards of Truth Social ahead of its launch, hackers demonstrated that Mr. Trump’s soon-to-be-released social network had lax safeguards and left open the ability to spoof anyone, including the former president.
Mr. Trump had revealed the social network in an online presentation on Wednesday as part of Trump Media and Technology Group, which aims to take on big social media platforms.
A representative for the Trump media company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“We had a fun time trolling it to high heaven,” Aubrey Cottle, a hacker affiliated with Anonymous who goes by the alias Kirtaner, said in an interview.
A Truth Social app was made available for “preorder” on Apple’s App Store on Wednesday, inviting anyone interested to join a waiting list for its release. The digital crumbs from that post, Mr. Cottle said, were enough for him and other Anonymous hackers to gain access to the prerelease version of the app.
Once inside, Mr. Cottle said, hackers posted memes from spoofed accounts for Mr. Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and other prominent figures.
The activity forced the Trump Media & Technology Group’s app developers to bar new accounts and eventually shutter the development platform. (The New York Times viewed screenshots backing up hackers’ claims.)
The breach and its aftermath did not stop shares of Mr. Trump’s SPAC company, Digital World Acquisition, from surging as much as 400 percent to $52 per share on Thursday, after Wednesday’s news of the merger that would launch Mr. Trump’s social media platform.
The New York Times
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Musk’s Twitter Threatens to Sue Zuckerberg’s Meta Over Threads
The battle between Elon Musk’s Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta over the launch of Threads — Instagram’s Twitter rival — has taken a legal turn.
On Wednesday, Meta’s Instagram debuted Threads, a text-focused social app designed to piggyback off Instagram’s infrastructure and user base. The app had more than 30 million sign-ups as of Thursday morning, according to Zuckerberg, which would represent around 1.5% of Instagram’s monthly active users.
In a July 5 cease-and-desist letter addressed to Meta CEO Zuckerberg, a lawyer representing Twitter said that Musk’s company had “serious concerns” that Meta “has engaged in systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.” The letter said that “Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information.”
“Over the past year, Meta has hired dozens of Twitter employees,” the letter says, alleging that “Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop, in a matter of months, Meta’s copycat ‘Threads’ app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal laws as well as those employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter.”
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone, asked for comment, referred to his post on Threads that said, “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing.”
Musk, in a tweet responding to news of Twitter’s legal threat to Meta, said, “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”
Twitter’s cease-and-desist letter also says that “Meta is expressly prohibited from engaging in any crawling or scraping of Twitter’s followers or follower data… Scraping any Twitter services is expressly prohibited for any reason without Twitter’s prior consent.” However, the letter does not allege that Meta engaged in such activity.
The letter from Twitter’s law firm to Meta was first reported by Semafor.
Musk acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal in October 2022. Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, who started at the social media company last month after exiting NBCUniversal, on Thursday posted a tweet seemingly referring to Threads, in which she said in part, “We’re often imitated — but the Twitter community can never be duplicated.”
An email to Twitter’s PR account requesting info returned an autoreply with a poop emoji. Variety also reached out to Alex Spiro, a partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the law firm representing Twitter (officially renamed as X Corp.) but has not received a reply.
Hours After Launch, Over 10 Million Join Threads, Zuckerberg’s Rival To Musk’s Twitter
Facebook has tried to compete with Twitter in numerous ways over the years, including copying signature Twitter features such as hashtags and trending topics. But now Facebook’s parent company is taking perhaps its biggest swipe at Twitter yet.
Meta on Wednesday officially launched a new app called Threads, which is intended to offer a space for real-time conversations online, a function that has long been Twitter’s core selling point.
The app received 10 million sign-ups within seven hours of its launch, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on his verified Threads account.
The app appears to have many similarities to Twitter, from the layout to the product description. The listing, which first appeared earlier this week as a teaser, emphasizes its potential to build a following and connect with like-minded people.
“The vision for Threads is to create an option and friendly public space for conversation,” Zuckerberg said in a Threads post following the launch. “We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what’s on your mind.”
He also responded to posts and shared his thoughts on whether Threads will ever be bigger than Twitter.
“It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it,” Zuckerberg wrote on Threads. “Hopefully we will.”
The app’s listing describes it as a place where communities can come together to discuss everything from the topics they care about today to what’s trending.
“Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world,” it reads.
Meta said messages posted to Threads will have a 500 character limit. The company said it was bringing the app to 100 countries via Apple’s iOS and Android.
After downloading the app, users are asked to link up their Instagram page, customize their profile and follow the same accounts they already follow on Instagram. The look is similar to Twitter with a familiar layout, text-based feed, the ability to repost and quote other Thread posts. But it also blends Instagram’s existing aesthetic and offers the ability to share posts from Threads directly to Instagram Stories. Verified Instagram accounts are also automatically verified on Threads. Thread accounts can also be listed as public or private.
The new app joins a growing list of Twitter rivals and could pose the biggest threat to Twitter of the bunch, given Meta’s vast resources and its massive audience.
It also comes amid heightened turmoil at Twitter, which experienced an outage over the weekend, followed by an announcement that the site had imposed temporary limits on how many tweets its users are able to read while using the app.
I’ve Hired New Twitter CEO – Elon Musk
Elon Musk said on Thursday he has found a new chief executive officer (CEO) for Twitter, but did not name the person, while the Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast (CMCSA.O) NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino was in talks for the job.
Musk said in a tweet: “Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
Musk said he will transition to the role of chief technology officer of the social media platform within the next few weeks.
Musk, who took over as CEO of Twitter when he completed his $44 billion purchase of the company in October, said in December that he would step aside as CEO once he found “someone foolish enough to take the job.” He said that he would then run Twitter’s software and servers teams.
The WSJ cited people familiar with the situation in saying that Yaccarino was in talks for the top post.
Reuters reported after Musk’s tweet that Yaccarino could be his choice to lead Twitter, according to a Silicon Valley executive and a former Hollywood executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Yaccarino, the top advertising sales executive at NBCUniversal, interviewed Musk at an advertising conference in Miami last month.
At the conference, Yaccarino encouraged the audience to welcome Musk with applause and lauded his work ethic.
“Many of you in this room know me, and you know I pride myself on my work ethic,” she said, adding, “Buddy, I met my match.”
Yaccarino joined NBCU in 2011, after 15 years at Turner Entertainment and has been credited with dragging the network’s ad sales operation into the digital future.
As broadcast television audiences migrated to streaming, she took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall last year to tell advertisers that their brand messages were not an afterthought.
Yaccarino did not respond to calls seeking comment on Thursday.
When asked for comment, an NBCUniversal spokesperson said, “Linda is in back-to-back rehearsals for the Upfront,” referring to a presentation NBCUniversal will host for advertisers in New York on Monday.
Yaccarino’s exit would be another big blow to the company after Comcast said last month that NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was leaving after acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, following a complaint that prompted an investigation.
Musk has previously not named any prospective candidates.
Speculation was rife on Thursday among tech and media insiders and on Blind, an anonymous messaging app for tech employees.
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and a top executive at Musk’s brain-chip startup Neuralink, Shivon Zilis, were among names that were being discussed.
Musk, who has come under fire from investors in his Tesla (TSLA.O) electric car company as being distracted by his attention to Twitter, said he will transition to the role of Twitter’s executive chair, along with the role of CTO, overseeing product, software and system operations.
Musk’s post about a new Twitter CEO came about 15 minutes before the close of Wall Street on Thursday, and Tesla shares closed 2% higher. The shares rose a further 1.6% in after-hours trade.
“The boat anchor called Twitter is loosened from Musk’s ankle. Now he can get back to spending more time creating value at Tesla,” said Craig Irwin, analyst at Roth MKM.
Musk has long said he intended to find a new leader for Twitter.
In a Twitter poll started by Musk in December, 57.5% users voted for him to step down as CEO of the social media platform.
The billionaire’s first two weeks as Twitter’s owner in October were marked by rapid change. He quickly fired Twitter’s previous CEO, Parag Agrawal, and other senior leaders, and then laid off half its staff in November.
Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” has said he took over Twitter to prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber for hate and division.
He also said he would “defeat” spam bots on the platform, a key area of his tussle with Twitter’s board over his back and forth on the buyout of the company.
He said last month that Twitter was “roughly breaking even.”
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