Regardless of what you think of Elon Musk, there’s no denying that his takeover of Twitter has caused quite a stir. The latest news from Twitter is that they will be disabling SMS based two factor authentication for free users, SMS based two factor authentication will become a premium feature.
Twitter Blue is not required to use the other (better) forms of 2FA such as an authenticator.
In a recent discussion on Twitter’s Spaces channel, Musk claimed that Twitter was being scammed to the tune of $60 million a year for SMS texts, not counting North America. The telcos were gaming the system and running two-factor authentication SMS texts over and over again, creating a zillion bot accounts to run up the tab so that Twitter would pay them millions of dollars, without even asking about it.
Musk’s immediate approach to making decisions allowed him to quickly tackle the telcos that were pumping SMS messages. He ordered his team to cut off any telco that had fraud above 10 percent, which caused some havoc in many parts of the world, but in my opinion it was the right thing to do.
Having seen plenty of evidence about the revenue-generating schemes operated by dodgy telcos and their symbiotic relationship with criminals, both inside and outside of their companies, it comes as no surprise that Twitter would be targeted for an abuse of this nature. What is surprising is that the previous management were so ignorant, idle or incompetent that they did nothing about it.
Fake traffic is a contributor to casino-style capitalism, and few of the world’s leaders want to turn off the flow of fake traffic because of the affect that would have on share prices. The net result is that some investors win at the cost of other investors, and criminals win at the cost of every investor. In the ultimate reckoning, traffic is being pumped not just because fraudsters choose to pump it, but because business leaders also choose to receive it. The fraudsters pump traffic, the business leaders pump share prices, and the rest of us are played for fools.
Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has shed light on bad practices in the comms industry. It’s important to identify and stop fraudulent activities, not only to protect businesses but also to prevent investors from being misled. We need to acknowledge that fake traffic is not only harmful to businesses but also contributes to casino-style capitalism, and that it’s time for a change. It’s time for the tech industry to focus on real value and performance, and not on artificially inflated valuations.