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30 september, 2022
Twitter's former head of security Peiter “Mudge” Zatko alleges “extreme, egregious deficiencies by Twitter” related to privacy, security and content moderation, as he filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice.
The complaints were filed by nonprofit law firm Whistleblower Aid, which is representing the prominent hacker-turned-cybersecurity-expert. Whistleblower Aid also represented Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Zatko was fired by Twitter in January and claims that this was retaliation for his refusal to stay quiet about the company’s vulnerabilities. Last month, he filed a complaint with the SEC that accuses Twitter of deceiving shareholders and violating an agreement it made with the FTC to uphold certain security standards. His complaints, totaling more than 200 pages, were obtained by CNN and The Washington Post.
Zatko alleges that he
“witnessed senior executive engaging in deceitful and/or misleading communications affecting Board members, users and shareholders”
on multiple occasions in 2021, during which CEO Parag Agrawal asked Zatko to provide false and misleading documents.
The complaint also mentions misrepresentations by Twitter to Elon Musk, who doubted "the accuracy of Twitter’s claim in legal findings that <5% of accounts are ‘bots,’ or automated spam accounts.”
Zatko joined Twitter in 2020 at the bequest of then-CEO Jack Dorsey, right after the company was hit by a massive hack in which accounts belonging to figures like Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Kanye West were compromised. Zatko says he joined Twitter because he believes the platform is a “critical resource” for the world but became disillusioned by the refusal of CEO Parag Agrawal to tackle the company’s many security failings.
This would never be my first step, but I believe I am still fulfilling my obligation to Jack and to users of the platform. I want to finish the job Jack brought me in for, which is to improve the place,
he told The Washington Post.
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