Nov 22, 2022 - Podcasts

Users flee Twitter over security concerns

In the last week, hashtags like #RIPTwitter and #TwitterDown were trending on the platform. The app continues to experience technical glitches under Elon Musk’s new regime, and it looks like more users are fleeing the site because of security concerns.

  • Plus, Americans plan their holidays as respiratory viruses surge.
  • And, a World Cup team protest.

Guests: Axios' Sara Fischer and Adriel Bettelheim

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Amy Pedulla and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Tuesday, Nov. 22.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re covering today: Americans plan their holidays as respiratory viruses surge. Plus, a World Cup team protest.

But first: fears are rising over Twitter’s security. That’s today’s One Big Thing.

Twitter’s survival seems to be in real jeopardy. In the last week, hashtags like #RIPTwitter and #TwitterDown have been trending on the platform. The app continues to experience technical glitches under Elon Musk’s new regime, and it looks like more users are fleeing the site because of security concerns.

Axios’ Sara Fischer has the reporting on this. Hey Sara.


NIALA: What kinda issues have we seen for users since the regime change at Twitter?

SARA: So most of it is small glitches, but they do have a big impact. So for example, users who had found their accounts to be hacked are saying that it's taking a longer time for Twitter to get back to them with information about how to recover their accounts. Same thing goes with people who are reporting things like misinformation or hate speech. The people who were responsible for fielding those requests and those reports and responding to them, those teams have been gutted. And then from a security perspective, last week some users reported problems trying to generate those two factor authentication codes on their text messages that would help them log back into their accounts if they logged out. There's also been some issues around copyright. You know, Twitter has a take down system where if you try to upload a movie or something that you don't have the rights to automatically that would get taken down. We're seeing reports of users uploading full videos to movies that aren't getting taken down in time. So there's just been a slew of small problems, Niala, that collectively add up to a different type of Twitter that we're used to.

NIALA: Many users have wondered, myself included, about whether or not we need to download our user data before anything further happens on the platform. I did, it took four days, but I did finally get my Twitter archive yesterday. Is that something people need to be worried about?

SARA: At this point it's unlikely that Twitter as an app completely crashes. And so I think you shouldn't feel like you're in an absolute rush to get your data. But you know, a mass exodus of people that are considered critical workers. I understand why people are worried about their data and so if they wanted to download it, they could. There were users that were reporting last week that they were trying to download the archives of their data and they couldn't even do it because of some of those technical glitches. So I'd say, look, it's not a bad idea, but I wouldn't view this as an end all, be all move in case Twitter shuts down tomorrow.

NIALA: Do we think Twitter is gonna shut down tomorrow? Or do we just think it's just going to start to look a little bit different?

SARA: Absolutely not gonna shut down tomorrow. You know, I think there's been concerns about whether or not Twitter can handle the onslaught of traffic that will come to the app during the World Cup. But I think that for now, Twitter seems pretty secure. But I think what you're gonna see is that there's a small erosion of features and policies that we become accustomed to that might not work as well moving forward or at least until Elon Musk decides to reprioritize them.

NIALA: How are advertisers reacting to all of this? Is that a concern? I know you've been following that as well.

SARA: Huge concern. What advertisers are telling me is that those trust and safety teams that have been gutted were the ones that were responsible for taking action on harmful content that their ads might be up against. And so a lot of advertisers have told me that they're gonna be pausing their ads on Twitter until they can figure this out. The other thing to watch Niala is that advertisers had told Axios that bringing Donald Trump back to the platform would be a red line for them. And so now that Elon Musk has decided to reinstate Donald Trump's account, abate, he hasn't tweeted yet, you could predict that would cause even more advertisers to pull.

NIALA: Sarah Fisher is Axios’ Media reporter. Thanks Sarah.

SARA: Thank you Niala.

A few headlines for you from around the world.

A deadly earthquake in Indonesia kills 162

At least 162 people were killed after a 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia’s main island of Java yesterday. The majority of those who died were children.

Indonesia often has earthquakes and other extreme weather events because of its location in the "ring of fire,” a string of volcanoes and seismic activity sites in the Pacific ocean. But in this case the epicenter of the earthquake was on land in a densely populated area, and the quake was relatively shallow–causing more damage to the region’s infrastructure.

A World Cup team protest

SOUND: Iran’s national anthem.

That’s Iran’s national anthem playing ahead of their first match of the tournament against England on day two of the world cup yesterday in Qatar, broadcast on Fox.

Iran lost the match, but its national team made headlines for deciding not to sing along to the national anthem in an apparent display of solidarity with the human rights protests that have been happening for the last several months in Iran. These were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died in police custody in Iran after being detained by the country's morality police for wearing her hijab improperly.

And finally: the Chinese government is reporting that it’s had its first covid deaths in almost 6 months, causing lockdowns in parts of the capital Beijing. Millions of others across China are also facing lockdowns as cases continue to rise despite the government’s official zero covid policy. The situation has caused outrage online and rare protests against the policy. But the government’s official COVID death numbers have been previously been called into question.

In a moment - an update on surging flu and RSV cases here in the US.

Americans plan their holidays as respiratory viruses surge

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today I'm Niala Boodhoo. Respiratory illnesses like flu and RSV are sweeping across parts of the country as we enter this holiday season with some covid ask results. Hospitals stretch to the breaking point, triage tents erected and elective surgeries canceled. But as Axios Senior Healthcare Editor Adriel Bettelheim reports, Americans aren't taking much notice. First, where are we seeing some of this play out?

ADRIEL BETTELHEIM: Across the country, but I mean, we're seeing some particular regional surges. Influenza A in the southeast going from the Mississippi Delta through Georgia and even as far north as Virginia. And rsv, respiratory syncytial virus, that's in places like New England and you was talking to someone at Yale today who said that their pediatric ward is overwhelmed. Boston Children's Hospital postponed some elective surgeries. So, it, it's, it's regional, but it's definitely real and it's the kind of thing that poses a nationwide threat given the way that these diseases are communicated and the fact that the weather's getting cold, people are going indoors. So, um, that tripledemic, combined with Covid is, is definitely hanging out there.

NIALA: It is important to keep this in perspective though, and note these illnesses are still not as lethal as covid.

ADRIEL: Absolutely. These are, you know, potentially quite dangerous to small children and to immunocompromised people and to some elderly people. But no, we are not seeing anything close to the mortality rates that we saw during the worst days of the pandemic.

NIALA: So how are we seeing people react to this surge of other illnesses?

ADRIEL: Well, I mean, the country's sort of been slouching towards, you know, more and more indifference since about the delta wave. You can see it anecdotally in how few people are masking and social distancing. Uh, you can see it in how many people are starting to travel, uh, for this holiday weekend and making plans the Christmas, uh, season. And the people who are taking vaccines, the uptake is, is not overwhelming. So there's a lot of real data and just anecdotal evidence to suggest that people are crisis weary and they, they just are, are too tired to put this at the top of their concern. And Americans do have sort of a, a talent of normalizing risk and making this sort of an individual experience and maybe not thinking of the bigger issue of, of a local hospital or health system being overwhelmed.

NIALA: Axios senior Healthcare editor, Adriel Bettelheim. Thanks Adriel. Have a good Thanksgiving.

ADRIEL: And to you too. Thanks for having me.

That’s it for us today. Thanks to all who have already shared what you’re thankful for - there’s still time today to send us a voice memo if you have a moment! We might include it in our special Thanksgiving drop.

You can email podcasts at axios dot com or text me at (202) 918-4893.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

Hey, it’s Niala, and I want to tell you about a podcast called “The Times,” essential news from the L.A. Times. Join host Gustavo Arellano [goo-STAH-voe ah-ray-YAH-no], along with reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom.They cover big issues like politics and climate change, but balance it out with fun stuff like food and pop culture. Listen and subscribe at L.A. Times dot com slash The Times or on your favorite podcast platform. That’s L.A. Times dot com slash The Times."

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