Judge grants subpoena to ID Twitter source code leaker

A California court has granted Twitter's request to unmask the GitHub user who uploaded its source code - along with anyone who "posted, uploaded, downloaded or modified" said code.

The subpoena request [PDF], granted yesterday [PDF], is seeking "all identifying information" for GitHub user FreeSpeechEnthusiast, who published the partial Twitter source code and some internal tools to GitHub several months ago, though it was just spotted by Twitter and taken down via a DMCA request [PDF] on March 24.

Twitter has also asked GitHub to "preserve and provide copies" of any logs related to the source code repository and any forks of the code made after it was uploaded to the cloud service.

Free speech absolutist not a fan of FreeSpeechEnthusiast

Elon Musk, who purchased Twitter late last year for $44 billion and has since estimated its value to be around half of what he paid, has described himself as a "free speech absolutist," as well as declaring in late February that Twitter's source code would be open sourced within a week of his comments on Twitter, though this has yet to happen.

When asked as part of its DMCA takedown request if the Twitter source code leaked online was covered by an open source license, Twitter lawyer Julian Moore said it wasn't.

FreeSpeechEnthusiast's GitHub handle is hard to interpret as anything but a dig at Musk, whose behavior since taking over Twitter hasn't always conformed to his absolutist claims.

Twitter has seemingly tweaked its algorithm since Musk has taken over to frontload the new owner's tweets, while upcoming changes to Twitter Blue will make it nigh impossible to grow an audience without shelling out for paid verification, itself a bit of a free speech mess since Musk's takeover - at least if you're a brand using Twitter.

The social media platform has also eliminated free access to its APIs, killing support for third-party apps and frustrating developers in the process. The plan to launch paid access to the APIs has been pushed back repeatedly, with no final date given since a mid-February tweet in which the company expressed support for its developer community, but still promised to phase its changes in over the coming weeks.

GitHub has until April 3 to produce the requested records, but it's not immediately clear what the Microsoft subsidiary will do in response to the subpoena. We've asked GitHub to comment.

It's also not entirely clear if GitHub is free of Twitter source code. Twitter claimed in its DMCA takedown request that it had not searched for any forks of the infringing repository, despite its demand in the subpoena request that any forks be taken down.

GitHub said it treats each fork as a distinct repository that must be identified separately, which Twitter did not do, perhaps because it lacks the manpower to do much besides keep the site limping along between outages. ®

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