Twitter has clarified that its employees do not have access to direct messages (DMs) of its users other than for "legitimate work purposes". The clarification comes in response to the claims made by conservative activist group Project Veritas that alleged Twitter employees are monitoring private user data, including direct messages. Project Veritas' James O'Keefe even released a video on YouTube on Monday that allegedly showcased how some Twitter engineers are accessing personally shared DMs.
Refuting the claims made by Project Veritas, a Twitter spokesperson, in a statement to BuzzFeed News, said, "We do not proactively review DMs. Period." However, the spokesperson did mention that "a limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes", but the company enforces "strict access protocols" even for those employees as well.
The video hosted by Keefe, who is an American political activist known for his undercover audio and video projects, allegedly shows few Twitter engineers claiming to own access to users' private data. One of the engineers spotted in the video even appeared to assert that Twitter can hand over the data of US President Trump, including deleted tweets and DMs, to the Department of Justice.
US President Donald Trump is a big user of Twitter and this has resulted in a fair share of controversies. The account of the US President Trump was shut down for 11 minutes in last November by a German user, Bahtiyar Duysak, who had been a Twitter employee at the time. Duysak, in a media interview, had confirmed that the temporary shutdown was not a planned act and had happened near the end of his scheduled final shift at the company. Twitter on its part said at the time that a number of steps had been taken to restrict such actions in future.