More trouble for Elon | Twitter suffers major source code leak - was an ex-employee behind it?

Twitter suffers major source code leak - was an ex-employee behind it?

Twitter has revealed that ex-employees are responsible for leaking the social media platform’s source code on the internet hosting service site GitHub, which could allow hackers to extract user data.

The source code, which is the primary code the app uses to run, was reportedly left on GitHub “for at least several months” after being taken down when Twitter sent a notice to the site.

An internal investigation has begun to find out who is responsible for the leak, and Twitter has requested the US District Court to order GitHub to identify the user who posted the code and those who downloaded it.

The social media platform has been in the headlines over the past year for its ownership takeover by Elon Musk, Tesla CEO. The code was posted on GitHub by a user named FreeSpeechEnthusiast, a nod to the Twitter founder who is a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist.”


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In more recent times, eyes have been on the company for its mass job layoffs where its workforce has more than halved from 7500 to roughly 2000.

There have been mass layoffs in Big Tech companies over the past year, largely due to economic strain and the sacking of workers employed over the pandemic tech-boom.

Twitter has been through a whirlwind journey since Musk’s mammoth buyout, which has shrouded the company in controversy and led to its valuation dropping by 56% to $20bn (£16.4bn), a stark difference to the $44bn (£35.5bn) Musk paid for it in October last year.

With so many layoffs happening across a variety of sectors thanks to the cost-of-living crisis and growing pressures on businesses, this event highlights the potential threat of disgruntled employees to sabotage their former employer to seek revenge.

Why is it important for employees to leave ‘happy’?

No matter the reason for an employee leaving you, whether dismissal or moving on to other employment, you want that person to leave with a good taste in their mouth and positive feeling towards your organisation.

In an environment so employee driven, it only takes one scathing Glassdoor review to turn away a great candidate, which makes it that much more important to cultivate a positive work environment and have effective procedures for letting employees go.

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Ultimately, a thriving company that is a sought-after place to work will have high retention rates and ex-workers that positively advocate for the company. This kind of environment might also make leaving employees rejoin your company down-the-line, with a wealth of experience and more industry knowledge behind them.

A report from Unum UK in 2022, revealed that one-in-five UK workers had returned to a previous employer in the past five years or were planning to in the near future. An act dubbed ‘boomeranging’ (when an employee returns back to a previous employer), the report found that work culture, work-life balance and better work perks are all reasons for a worker’s return.

In a previous interview with HR Grapevine, Chris Goulding, Managing Director of Wade Macdonald said that rejoining workers “can hit the ground running with company processes, systems, and client relations because they know the business and they know the people”.

In the case of an employee leaving due to redundancy, many experts highlight the importance of these employees to be supported throughout the process. On its website, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) offers insight from Paul Holcroft, Associate Director at Croner, who advises firms on their HR policies – part of which covers redundancy packages. He highlights the sensitivity around layoffs and redundancies.

“Being made redundant can be an incredibly distressing time, so it is essential that employers maintain regular dialogue with affected staff,” Holcroft said.

“Given the complexity of a redundancy procedure, employers should provide individuals with a clear explanation of their rights and a timeframe for when decisions will be made. This reduces any unnecessary stress and ill feeling among the workforce. Employees with a minimum of two years’ service are eligible for a reasonable amount of time off to look for new work or to arrange training for future employment.”



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