Overnight Cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley —Twitter’s changing check mark system

Madeline Monroe/iStock/Patrick Pleil-Pool via AP
Madeline Monroe/iStock/Patrick Pleil-Pool via AP

Twitter removed gray supplementary verification labels placed on some accounts within 24 hours of their launch, but they may appear on other accounts again as the platform tweaks its labels and subscription features under new CEO Elon Musk.

Meanwhile, Mississippi state officials said on Wednesday they are unable to confirm and attribute actors behind a cyberattack that impacted election websites on Election Day.

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? 

One check, two check, gray check, blue check

Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday said he “killed” the rollout of second verification labels less than 24 hours after they started appearing on select users’ accounts, with a company director clarifying that the marks are still set to be introduced when the company’s updated subscription service launches.

  • Twitter said Tuesday evening it would start rolling out gray labels marking some accounts as “official” as the company launches its plans to start charging users for its previous blue check mark verification system.
  • By Wednesday afternoon some of the gray “official” labels that were placed on select users’ accounts were removed.  

In response to YouTuber Marques Brownlee, who noted that his “official” label was gone nearly as quickly as it appeared, Musk said, “I just killed it.” 

“Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months,” Musk tweeted shortly after. “We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.” 

Twitter’s Esther Crawford tweeted after that the official label “is still going out as part of” the Twitter Blue subscription launch.

“What you saw him mention was the fact that we’re not focusing on giving individuals the ‘Official’ label right now,” she tweeted, referring to Musk’s tweet.

Read more here

Mississippi unable to confirm cyberattack culprit

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson (R) said Wednesday his office was unable to confirm the actors behind a cyberattack that disrupted state election websites on Tuesday, as more evidence is needed to attribute it to any specific group.

Watson said the attack caused the sites to be “periodically inaccessible,” but was confident that the “election system was not compromised.” 

  • A Russian hacking group reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. According to USA TODAY, the group said in a Telegram post that it targeted Mississippi’s state election websites to “hit the section that is directly related to the elections.”
  • The hackers also said that they would “attack American Democrats as a gift to the Republicans for the elections,” and that their first target is the Democratic National Committee, USA TODAY reported.

A senior official at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) told reporters that the agency is “certainly aware of the [Russian] claims… but that’s not enough for the federal government to provide attribution.” 

Read more here


Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced Wednesday it will lay off more than 11,000 employees as the company struggles financially amid high inflation and a possible recession in the future.

  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a message to employees that the layoffs will reduce the size of the company’s staff by about 13 percent.
  • He also said Meta is taking steps to become a “leaner and more efficient” company through cutting discretionary spending and extending a hiring freeze through the first quarter of next year.  

“I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here,” Zuckerberg said. “I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted.”  

He said the start of the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased revenue growth in e-commerce, which he and others predicted would be permanent, leading Zuckerberg to significantly invest the company’s interests in it. 

Read more here.  


Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold $3.95 billion worth of shares in the electric car company within the last week, following his recent purchase of Twitter, The Associated Press reported. 

Musk sold 19.5 million Tesla shares from Nov. 4-8, according to recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The billionaire has now sold more than $19 billion worth of stock in the company since April, when he first announced his plans to buy Twitter, according to the AP. 

Musk took over Twitter late last month after finalizing his $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform. The takeover has been controversial, with Musk ousting the company’s previous leadership and laying off about half of its workforce. 

Read more here.  


An op-ed to chew on: Musk’s Twitter shake-up could deliver a critical blow to social media research 

Notable links from around the web: 

How a viral teen app became the center of a sex trafficking conspiracy (The Washington Post / Taylor Lorenz) 

Fall of a Crypto Titan Puts an Industry on Edge (The New York Times / David Yaffe-Bellany) 

How Elon Musk is changing Twitter (Vox / Shirin Ghaffary) 

🎶 Lighter click: The future is here 

One more thing: Another Artemis delay

NASA on Tuesday delayed the highly anticipated launch of its Artemis rocket as Tropical Storm Nicole moves toward Florida. 

Agency officials said in a blog post they decided to move the launch date from Monday, Nov. 14, to Wednesday, Nov. 16, to ensure the best conditions are available at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

“Adjusting the target launch date will allow the workforce to tend to the needs of their families and homes, and provide sufficient logistical time to get back into launch status following the storm,” NASA wrote. 

There will be a two-hour launch window beginning at 1:04 a.m. ET on Nov. 16. A backup launch date is available on Saturday, Nov. 19, if needed. 

Read more here.  

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Tags cybersecurity Elon Musk Elon Musk Mark Zuckerberg Meta nasa

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