In a rare major intellectual property breach, a legal filing shows that part of Twitter’s source code has been leaked online. The company is now struggling to mitigate technical problems and turn around its business fortunes under Elon Musk.
The documents show that Twitter took action on Friday, sending a copyright infringement notice to GitHub, the code hosting platform that published its source code, demanding that the leaked code be removed, and that GitHub complied with Twitter’s request and removed the code that day. It is unclear how long the leaked code has been available online, but it appears to have been publicly available for at least several months.
Twitter also asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to order GitHub to identify the person who shared the code, as well as anyone else who had downloaded it. Two people with knowledge of the internal investigation said Twitter launched an investigation into the leak. The executive in charge of the matter speculated that the person responsible left the company last year. About 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 employees have been fired or resigned since Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last October.
Twitter executives only recently learned of the source code leak, people familiar with the matter said. They are concerned that the code contains security vulnerabilities that could give hackers or other motivated parties access to extract user data or shut down the site. The leak of the source code adds to the challenges facing Twitter. Tech companies typically treat such code as strictly confidential and are reluctant to share it because they fear it could give competitors an unfair advantage or expose security vulnerabilities.