Whistleblower alleges Twitter misled regulators over security and spam, Twitter says it’s a ‘false narrative’

Former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko alleged in a federal lawsuit filed last month that the social media giant had numerous high-profile information security system failures, according to a copy of the lawsuit. complaint made public on Tuesday.

According to the complaint, the company prioritized growth over monitoring spam and bots on the platform because some employees were at risk of receiving $10 million bonuses based on the increase. daily users.

In response, Twitter blasted Zatko, who worked at the company from November 2020 to January 2022, saying he was spreading a “false story on Twitter” and was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance.” The company also said Zatko’s public remarks are “riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lack important context.”

In a statement, attorneys representing Katko rebuked Twitter’s characterization.

“Mr. Zatko has repeatedly raised concerns about Twitter’s grossly inadequate information security systems with the company’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors throughout his tenure,” they said. .

They also said, “On January 19, 2022, just two weeks after Mr. Zatko clashed with Mr. Agrawal and Mr. Kordestani over these issues, Twitter abruptly terminated his employment.”

The complaint, first reported by The Washington Post, becomes public as Tesla CEO Elon Musk – the richest person in the world, according to the Forbes Billionaires list – sought to end his $44 billion bid dollars to acquire Twitter due to concerns about spam accounts on the platform.

Twitter sued Musk last month in an attempt to force him to complete his purchase of the company after he said in early July he was backing out of the deal.

Alex Spiro, an attorney with the Quinn Emanuel law firm that represents Musk in this lawsuit, said the firm subpoenaed Zatko, nicknamed “Mudge.”

“We found his output and that of other key employees curious in light of what we found,” Spiro said in a statement.

Whistleblower Aid, the attorneys representing Zatko, told ABC News in a statement “the disclosure speaks for itself and Mudge stands behind everything in it.”

Whistleblower Aid confirmed Zatko’s complaint and the authenticity of the document published by The Washington Post. Zatko sent his complaint in July to the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.

The complaint makes a host of allegations about Twitter’s failure to secure its platform.

The complaint alleges that Twitter made false and misleading statements to users and the FTC about the company’s efforts to protect the privacy and integrity of the platform for more than a decade.

In turn, Twitter violated an agreement the company reached with the FTC in 2011 in which the company agreed to create a “comprehensive information security program,” the complaint says.

Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter, walks into a morning session at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho on July 07, 2022.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images, FILE

According to the complaint, the misleading remarks made by Twitter include a tweet from CEO Parag Agrawal in May, in which he said the company has “a strong incentive to detect and remove as much spam as possible.”

A Twitter spokesperson told ABC News, “Mr. Zatko was terminated from his senior position at Twitter in January 2022 for ineffective leadership and poor performance. What we have seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices. which is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context.”

“Mr. Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to garner attention and harm Twitter, its customers and its shareholders. Security and privacy have long been company-wide priorities at Twitter and will continue to be,” the spokesperson added.

The whistleblower’s complaint is the latest in a series of major developments for Twitter and Musk as they remain locked in a legal dispute over its decision to end its acquisition of the company.

Previously, Musk claimed that Twitter did not provide him with an accurate estimate of the number of bots on the platform. Twitter refuted that claim, saying it provided information to Musk in accordance with the terms set out in the acquisition agreement.

Last month, a Delaware court determined that the trial in a lawsuit filed by Twitter against Musk should take place in October, granting an expedited deadline for the case.

ABC News

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