Twitter Lied About Bots, Former Security Chief Says in Boost to Musk

The allegations were made in testimony to the US market regulator, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and CNN

The company is facing allegations in an investigation sent to the US Congress and federal agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
August 23, 2022 | 10:14 AM

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Bloomberg Línea — Twitter (TWTR) is alleged to have hidden lax security practices, misled federal regulators about security, and failed to correctly estimate the number of bots on the platform, according to testimony from the company’s former chief security officer, hacker turned cybersecurity expert Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko.

The allegations are contained in an investigation sent to the US Congress and federal agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a 200-page document obtained by The Washington Post and CNN and released Tuesday.

According to the reports, Zatko allegedly claimed that Twitter has major security problems that pose a threat to the personal information of its users, the company’s shareholders, national security, and democracy.

Zatko was fired by Twitter in January, and claims that this was retaliation for his refusal to keep quiet about the company’s vulnerabilities.

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Last month, Zatko filed a complaint with the SEC that accuses Twitter of misleading shareholders and violating an agreement it made with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to maintain certain security standards.

On Monday, Elon Musk subpoenaed Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and his longtime friend, in his defense against the social media company’s lawsuit that seeks to make him complete its $44 billion buyout proposal.

Dorsey, who stepped down as Twitter CEO last year, has been an energetic champion of Musk’s bid to buy the company, tweeting in April that Musk was the “singular solution I trust” to take over.

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The subpoena follows two others, filed last Friday against Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s former head of consumer products, and Bruce Falck, former head of revenue product. Musk is quickly gathering documents and data to show that Twitter underestimated how much of its customer base is made up of spam accounts and bots.

Since the world’s richest person backed out of the purchase, dozens of people, banks and funds have been subpoenaed by both sides in the legal battle playing out in a Delaware state court. The effort to gather information and interview key figures in the settlement comes ahead of an accelerated timetable for the trial, scheduled to begin on October 17 and last five days.

--With information from Bloomberg News