What do you incentivize?

You get what you reward. Twitter decided to primarily reward user growth, and things went downhill from there. Recently, their head of security quit. Then he filed a whistleblower complaint with the authorities, complaining that Twitter’s security is bad and not getting better. Now there is likely to be a very interesting congressional hearing.

White-hat hacker Peiter Zatko (aka “Mudge”) was hired after a 2020 security breach but could not implement the changes he felt were necessary to fight spam and automated bots. The reason is the incentive structure at Twitter.

You see, Twitter management bonuses are based on user growth. There is no bonus for reducing spam or automated bots. You get what you reward, with no exception. You can reward with money, perks, promotions, or other recognition, but you have to incentivize the behavior you want. If all your incentives are based on quantity and not quality, you will get ever-increasing quantity and ever-decreasing quality.

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