Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He is Twitter’s former head of security who alleged the company has extraordinary security flaws from the inside out and has tried to hide them.
Zatko gave Congress and federal regulators a whistleblower disclosure document that was shared with CNN and The Washington Post. It reveals Twitter’s security problems could impact personal user information, national security, the company’s shareholders and elections.
Zatko alleges Twitter’s leadership has misled the board and government regulators about its security vulnerabilities including hacking, foreign spying and disinformation campaigns. According to CNN, Zatko is also accusing CEO Parag Agrawal and other top executives of discouraging him from telling the company’s board and government regulators about the full scope of the problem. Zatko said he was told to cherry-pick information and instructed to provide a broad oral report, rather than a detailed written report.
“If these claims are accurate, they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world,” Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee said in a statement. “The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate this issue further with a full committee hearing this work period, and take further steps as needed to get to the bottom of these alarming allegations.”
Twitter said Zatko was fired for ineffective leadership and poor performance. The company stated privacy and security are priorities.
“What we’ve seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context. Mr. Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
Ahead of the hearing, polling reveals Americans largely support content moderation by big social media companies.
A recent poll from the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University amongst Americans found:
- 70% Believe social media companies are justified in removing users that violate their rules.
- 65% Believe it’s justified to remove information that poses a risk to public health and safety.
- 61% Think social media companies should remove elected officials who violate their rules.
In addition, 60% of respondents support removing disruptive users, and 52% support removing disruptive elected officials. The poll also found that when it comes to collecting and using personal data, the most distrusted companies are Facebook, Tiktok and Twitter.