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'Private cloud server' Jira upgraded for wider teams, dragged into culture wars

Atlassian wants it used more widely … but probably not for reporting misinformation to social networks

Atlassian's Jira tool last Friday received significant upgrades aimed at encouraging its use beyond development teams, a day after it was cast in a sinister role in the USA's culture wars.

Let's cover the upgrade first. Atlassian has signalled that Jira Product Discovery (JPD) will soon become generally available. Like the addition of Jira's workflow tools to Confluence, Atlassian's aim with JPD is to get more teams that have input to software development working with the same tools.

The team JPD addresses is product managers, whom Atlassian believes use spreadsheets, text documents, or email to create wish lists for enhancements to software. The ideas expressed can therefore be hard to communicate to developers, and harder to track.

JPD lets product managers – and others who rely on developers – share ideas and then watch as they're progressed.

Another Jira enhancement, Work Management, offers project management baked into Jira to again let more parts of an org work with the Atlassian tool. Atlassian is aware of the potential for capturing wallet share with this tool, which may be one reason it's giving it away for a time.

Atlassian has also released myriad templates for Jira so it's ready to be used in more workflows that touch on software.

The Register didn't ask if one of those workflows is social media content moderation requests passed from government agencies to social network operators.

We mention that workflow only because last week's United States House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing on "Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter's Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story" unexpectedly mentioned that Jira was used in just such a role.

Representative Anna Luna (R-FL) produced evidence that Twitter's former global head of trust & safety, Yoel Roth, and other Twitter staff were able to access a Jira instance in which the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – plus other government agencies – reported what they believed was misinformation. Roth and his team could then consider if the reported tweets violated Twitter's terms of service. Luna characterized Jira in somewhat cloak-and-dagger terms as a "private cloud server" and suggested that use of such tools is inappropriate and evidence that Twitter acceded to government requests to suppress certain speech.

Roth tried to explain the nature of Jira, but was cut off and did not return to the topic.

The hearing did reveal one alleged direct attempt by the US government's executive branch to censor Twitter: testimony from Anika Collier Navaroli, formerly of Twitter's Safety Team, stated that then-president Donald Trump let it be known he wanted Twitter to remove an unflattering tweet posted by model and television personality Chrissie Teigen, bypassing the agencies responsible for such suggestions and the Jira server they used for similar requests.

Of course The Register is far too polite to repeat what Teigen called Trump, but that is after all what search engines are for. ®

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