Twitter is asking a federal court to identify a person or group responsible for publishing part of the social media platform’s source code to Microsoft’s GitHub, according to a motion filed in Northern California on Friday.
The motion says Twitter discovered its source code was posted to GitHub this week. Twitter notified GitHub about the issue, and GitHub worked expediently to remove it from their website, the filing said.
The source code was originally published by a GitHub user named “FreeSpeechEnthusiast,” according to a copy of the legal complaint obtained and reviewed by The Desk. The account was still online as of Sunday evening, but contributions made under that username were not available.
The data was uploaded in early January, according to documents reviewed by The Desk, with the repository carrying the vague repository name “Public Space” and the code itself written in the Scala programming language. It was online for more than a month before Twitter’s Head of Patents Julian Moore submitted a copyright infringement complaint to GitHub. The data was pulled a short time later.
There were four folders inside the "FreeSpeechEnthusiast" repository before it was pulled, including one related to Twitter's user of Amazon Web Services. There was also a ReadMe file that was blank. https://t.co/qXqd4b48rn
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) March 27, 2023
Source code can be considered intellectual property under federal law, and Twitter is asking a court in San Francisco to force GitHub to hand over personal information about the person or group responsible for infringing on its protected data.
Officials at Twitter appear concerned that the source code could compromise the security and integrity of the website, according to people briefed with the matter who spoke with the New York Times. An internal investigation at Twitter suggests the code may have been posted by former employees who left the company shortly after technology mogul Elon Musk acquired the platform late last year.
A message sent to an e-mail address used by reporters to contact Twitter officials resulted in an automatic reply that contained nothing more than a “poop” emoji. Twitter’s communications team was disbanded shortly after Musk took over in late October. The “poop” emoji response is a new development in Twitter’s unusual course of business, which has included an increase in the amount of bugs and security issues at the company over the last few months.