In the latest of a series of hidden video footage released by Project Veritas, top level Twitter engineers revealed to undercover journalists that ‘three to four hundred people are paid to look at dick pics.’
The offhand language of multiple engineers, who did not realize they were being recorded, stated in no uncertain terms that all private communications between individual users on the platform, through Twitter’s Direct Messaging service, are saved and permanently stored on Twitter’s servers, even after users have deleted them or left the platform.
Like any other activity on the platform, it is analyzed and sold to advertisers. But, as Project Veritas‘s James O’Keefe points out, private message data comes at a higher premium to advertisers because of the personal nature of the information contained within.
The loose-lipped Silicon Valley employees also revealed that, human beings, not algorithms, often are charged to view private content from users, at least 300-400 employees, and an untold number of senior level Twitter employees have access to all users’ Direct Messages.
“Everything you send is stored on my server. All your sex messages and your dick pics are on my server right now,” Pranay Singh, the top Direct Message engineer at Twitter says in the video released Monday. “I’m going to send it to your wife.”
“It is creepy Big Brother… it disturbs me,” another engineer says.
“It’s business. To see what you’re interested in, what you’re talking about, to sell that data to advertisers,” another says in the video.
Nudity, specifically users sending “dick pics” and “spread eagle” shots to one another consumes an ungodly amount of content sent over Direct Message between users in which Twitter employees must personally review, say the engineers.
The age to join Twitter is 13. According to 2015 Pew Research data, one third of teenagers are on Twitter. High schoolers are the most active age group on the social network. 42 percent of 15 to 17 year olds use Twitter, according to the data.
Researchers at the University of Utah in 2013 studied the prevalence of sexting among teenagers, defined as sending a nude photo of one’s own body to another person using your smartphone. Of the teens, 41 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girls reported having received a sext, reported Psychology Today.
There’s no indication teenagers don’t use Twitter’s Direct Message function any differently than other person-to-person communication services. Although not addressed in the Project Veritas video, if what the engineers are saying is true, an untold number of elicit photos sent to and from underage teens are being stored on Twitter’s servers, where employees would have access to them.
Clay Haynes, a senior Twitter engineer, tells the reporters that employees with access to users’ DMs, can view or leak any information contained within them, anytime they chose.
Another engineer backs this up in the video, stating there is no way to protect users if their information falls into the wrong hands.
Chadwick Moore is a journalist, political commentator, and former editor-in-chief of now defunct DANGEROUS, currently working on his first book.