Twitter’s former head of security has blown the whistle on the social media platform, alleging that the company has big holes in its security practices and that it misled the US government and Elon Musk about its vulnerability.
Peiter Zatko, who served as Twitter’s security head until January, has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Department of Justice. A redacted copy of the 84-page document has been shared by CBS News.
The complaint from Zatko, who is also a famed hacker known as “Mudge,” claims that the social media platform has “extreme, egregious deficiencies” in security, privacy, and content moderation. It also accuses Twitter’s executives of lying to federal regulators about the strength of its security plan.
The document also touches on the Elon Musk-Twitter saga, accusing the social media company of “lying about bots to Elon Musk.”
“A recent example of misrepresentations by Twitter concerns Elon Musk’s high-profile takeover attempt since April 2022,” the complaint said, noting that Musk expressed doubts about the accuracy of Twitter’s claim that less than 5% of accounts are “bots” while CEO Parag Agrawal denied this claim.
“Agrawal’s tweet was a lie. In fact, Agrawal knows very well that Twitter executives are not incentivized to accurately “detect” or report total spam bots on the platform,” claiming that,
“Musk is correct: Twitter executives have little or no personal incentive to accurately “detect” or measure the prevalence of spam bots.”
Agrawal has responded to the charges in an alleged email sent to employees, which was posted to Twitter by CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan.
Per that letter,
“We are reviewing the redacted claims that have been published, but what we’ve seen so far is a false narrative that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and presented without important context.”
As reported, Musk declared his Twitter takeover bid on April 14, offering to buy 100% of the shares in the company for USD 54.20 per share. While Twitter’s board was initially skeptical of the deal, the company agreed with the USD 44bn buyout after Musk had confirmed a funding package that included USD 21bn of his own money.
However, in mid-May, Musk announced that he was putting the deal “on hold” until it became clear that less than 5% of the platform’s daily users are fake.
In early July, Musk officially announced that he was pulling out of the deal, but Twitter sued the billionaire for violating the deal, asking a court to order the Tesla CEO to complete it. The lawsuit will go to trial on October 17 for five days.