Twitter blogs TechCrunch ‘irresponsible’

Chris Caceres · July 17, 2009 · Short URL:

The publishing of stolen internal Twitter documents ignites some drama in the blogosphere

 Earlier this week, TechCrunch and another blog, Korben, got a hold of 310 internal and confidential Twitter documents, from a hacker.  I wrote up a story you can read about that, here.

Originally, TechCrunch said it would only publish certain bits of the information – nothing too harmful, like a ridiculous pitch for a Twitter reality TV show, along with a general overview of what the documents contained.  

But yesterday, the popular tech blog took things a step further, in a post titled, “The Final Word: Twitter’s Internal Strategy Laid Bare: To Be “The Pulse of the Planet.”  

The post, written by Eric Schonfeld shares everything from never-before revealed discussions between Twitter, Google and Microsoft, to product planning, company goals, new proposed terms of service and APIs, along with potential acquisitions.

But what’s interesting is Schonfeld explained, “It’s important to note that we have been given the green light by Twitter to post this information.”  And so forth, the article requires you to scroll almost endlessly through cut and pasted documents with commentary from TechCrunch – it’s a lot of detailed info.

Twitter responded on its blog last night in a post titled, “Someone Call Security,” stating,

“the publication of stolen documents is irresponsible and we absolutely did not give permission for these documents to be shared. Out of context, rudimentary notes of internal discussions will be misinterpreted by current and future partners jeopardizing our business relationships.”

On top of that, Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, tweeted to TechCrunch,


No talk of legal matters yet, but at least one question comes into play…was it right for TechCrunch to publish these stolen documents? 

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

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Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

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There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

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What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.

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