In a document addressed last month to the United States securities regulator (SEC), the Department of Justice and the competition regulators (FTC), Pete Zatko pointed out “serious and gross flaws, willful ignorance and threats to national security and the democracy”, according to the text disclosed by the media.
Twitter told AFP in a note that the complaint is “full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies” and assured that data protection is part of its priorities.
The company also denounced Zatko’s opportunism that seeks to “harm Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.” He said he fired him in January for “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”
The whistleblower cited outdated servers, software vulnerable to hacking, and executives trying to hide the number of hacking attempts from both shareholders and US authorities.
He also pointed out that Twitter privileges the increase in the number of users over the fight against spam (unwanted messages) and bots.
Zatko accuses the platform and its CEO, Parag Agrawal, of issuing false statements about the number of accounts because “if the exact measurements were made public, it would harm the image and valuation of the company.”
His exposition argues that since Twitter counts users based on the number that can be reached through advertising – and not the actual number of accounts – the true magnitude of spam bots is effectively unknown.
– False –
A version of the document with the complaints about Twitter was dated July 6, almost a week before the company launched its lawsuit to try to force tycoon Elon Musk to honor the purchase agreement.
Zatko’s legal team called what was said about his job and his departure from Twitter “false,” noting that he was fired after clashing with Agrawal.
The issue of fake accounts is at the center of the legal battle between Twitter and Musk, who accuses the company of minimizing the proportion of fake and spam accounts, estimated at 5% by the platform.
The billionaire tweeted on Tuesday “the prevalence of spam *was* shared with the board, but the board decided not to disclose it to the public…”
With this argument, Musk seeks to justify the abandonment of his plan to buy Twitter for 44,000 million dollars in early July and avoid paying the business termination fees.
The Senate intelligence committee wants to meet with Zatko to discuss his allegations, according to The Washington Post and CNN.
Before joining Twitter, Zatko held senior positions at Google and payment processing company Stripe, as well as DARPA, the technology research arm of the Pentagon.