Twitter Whistleblower Alleges Major Issues with Security, Spam Accounts

Photo: The New York Times

The Facts

  • Twitter's former head of security, Peiter Zatko, reportedly filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month, alleging the company failed to protect sensitive user data and lied about security problems.

  • Zatko alleges Twitter misled users and investors, acting with "negligence and even complicity" towards hackers as well as efforts by foreign governments to infiltrate the platform. Twitter even allegedly placed Indian government officials on the payroll and gave them access to user data.

The Spin

Narrative A

Zatko's claims will undoubtedly help Musk's case. He has argued that "Twitter executives don't have the resources to fully understand the true number of bots on the platform", and his claims over security vulnerability may provide Musk with another argument that Twitter has misrepresented itself by violating its 2011 agreement with the DOJ and FTC.

Narrative B

This will do nothing to hep Musk's case. Downturns that have followed these revelations are an overreaction - even if Zatko demonstrates that spam accounts made up 6% or 9%, rather than 5% of overall accounts, it would not prove Musk was sufficiently misled to enable him to back out of the purchase.

Cynical narrative

The timing of this can't help but raise questions. This seems like a classic example of an opportunistic former employee. Zatko was fired from Twitter earlier this year due to poor performance and leadership, so it makes sense that he'd try and tear down the company that released him from his once-prestigious position.

Nerd narrative

There's a 35% chance that personal ID authentication will be obligatory for new Twitter accounts on July 1, 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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