A whistleblower’s complaint alleging Twitter ignored a rash of spam and bot accounts could help Elon Musk in his effort to walk away from a $44-billion buyout of the social media platform, legal experts say.
Peiter Zatko, Twitter’s ex-head of security, alerted U.S. authorities to “egregious deficiencies” in the company’s defenses against hackers, according to his complaint. Zatko, fired from Twitter earlier this year, said he raised concerns about the bots in early 2021 and was told by the head of site integrity that Twitter didn’t know how many bots were on the platform. His Twitter colleagues showed no interest in delving into the issue, according to the complaint.
“We have already issued a subpoena for Mr. Zatko, and we found his exit and that of other key employees curious in light of what we have been finding,” Alex Spiro, a lawyer for Musk, said in a statement Tuesday.
Twitter sued Musk in July to force him to complete his proposed acquisition. Since then, dozens of people, banks, funds and other firms have been subpoenaed in the Delaware lawsuit, with a trial scheduled to begin Oct. 17. At the center of Musk’s defense are the company’s disclosures about the quality of its customer base as it is affected by spam and automated accounts.
Zatko alleges Twitter executives failed to disclose the true extent of such accounts on the platform. Spiro said he learned from court filings that Twitter officials didn’t consider Zatko to be knowledgeable about spam accounts on the system and that they declined to search Zatko’s files as part of the exchange of information in the case.
Read more at LA Times.