Former iPhone jailbreaker and self-driving car developer is fixing Twitter search

Elon Musk has hired noted iPhone security hacker and jailbreaker George Hotz to make some much-needed improvements to Twitter’s search functionality.

Isometric view of an iPhone showing a white Twitter bird logo on the screen, set against a sold light-blue background
Can George Hotz fix Ttwitter search? | Image: Jeremy Bezanger/Unsplash
  • What’s happening? Elon Musk has hired the noted iPhone security hacker Goerge Hotz to try and fix Twitter’s broken search in just 12 weeks.
  • Why care? Looks like one of Hotz’s goals is making Twitter’s search less unforgiving in terms of having to type the exact text query.
  • What to do? Maybe start looking into Twitter alternatives, just in case?

Elon Musk gives George Hotz 12 weeks to fix Twitter search

With new Twitter overlords come new objectives. It began when Hotz on his Twitter proposed spending a 12-week internship at Twitter for the cost of living in San Francisco (quite high compared to other metropolitan areas in the United States).

“It’s not about accumulating capital in a dead world, it’s about making the world alive,” he wrote in the tweet, to which Elon Musk responded with: “Sure, let’s talk.”

It looks like Hotz was serious about lending his coding talents to Twitter because his November 22 tweet shares how he’d go about fixing Twitter’s search feature.

For starters, Twitter should make it a lot easier to get to advanced modifiers when using the search feature. Searching within liked and seeing tweets with a modifier “should be table stakes,” he said. He pointed to Discord as an example of a service that surfaces advanced search modifiers a lot better.

Allowing typos in search queries

And lastly, he proposes making Twitter search less unforgiving. In its current shape and form, Twitter’s search isn’t smart enough to figure out what you wanted to type if there’s a typo in your query. You must type the exact text that you want to find or you won’t get any hits. Read: How to search a specific account’s tweets

Obviously, this isn’t ideal. As someone who uses Twitter search a lot for my work, I’m especially frustrated that Twitter’s search is so dumb.

“I have 12 weeks,” he said.

Hotz also wants to fix another pain point—the pop-up that appears on the Twitter website after you scroll a little bit as a non-logged-in user.

Hotz and Musk are frenemies

Hotz made a name for himself by jailbreaking the iPhone’s operating system and circumventing protections preventing people from installing non-sanctioned apps.

In the jailbreak community, Hotz was known by his codename “GeoHot”. He famously turned down an opportunity to work on Tesla’s driver-assistance technology and instead founded, a startup that builds and sells a $1,999 driver-assistance kit that can be retrofitted into existing cars.

He says the system works with over 200 vehicles.