Earlier today, Valleywag ran a story about the U.S. government having access to Twitter’s “firehose” of data. The news apparently came from a source who presumably overheard a Twitter employee talking about it at lunch. To categorize that as “flimsy” would be an understatement. And so it should come as a shock to no one that Twitter is denying the allegations.
“Your characterization of this as bullshit is perfect. You could also go with laughable, libelous, and absolutely untrue,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote to us in an email this evening. I had asked if the news was “BS” and if Stone cared to comment about it on the record. Obviously, he did.
And obviously, he’s pissed off. And he should be if there’s no truth to this whatsoever. Valleywag has since updated the post with a quote from Twitter denying the allegations.
Here’s the core of what Valleywag wrote:
Whoever is seeding the restaurant gossip is being fairly specific. A source tells us that a loose-lipped Twitter staffer recently dished at a lunch that the company has allowed a federal agency to set up a tap to monitor a “firehose” of its data, including private details on users, presumably including private “direct messages,” IP addresses and account information. The Feds — the NSA would seem the most logical agency —then analyze the data to mine for information they deem of interest.
It is worth noting that Twitter did apparently talk to the U.S. government during the Iranian protests because the service was scheduled to have downtime that would have stopped the flow of communications. While Twitter did not deny talking with the government at that time, it was quick to note that it plays no role in its decision-making for the company. As Twitter is a fast growing communication platform being used around the world, obviously, that’s important.