Twitter is reportedly rife with security problems, failing to protect user data and lying about it to the company’s board and federal regulators. Those are the accusations in a damning whistleblower report by Twitter’s former security chief, according to documents obtained first by CNN and The Washington Post.
Peiter “Mudge” Zatko is a renowned hacker who was fired in January for “ineffective leadership and poor performance,” a Twitter spokesperson told CNN. Zatko, through the nonprofit Whistleblower Aid, sent his whistleblower documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice and Congress.
“I think Twitter is a critical resource to the entire world,” Zatko said in an interview with CNN. But in documents, The Washington Post said Zatko, “depicts Twitter as a chaotic and rudderless company beset by infighting, unable to properly protect its 238 million daily users including government agencies, heads of state and other influential public figures.”
“He says Twitter security problems are so grave they are a risk to national security and democracy,” CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan reported.
Zatko also said the company doesn’t fully understand the true number of bots on the platform — a chief complaint and defense of Musk’s — though Zatko’s attorney said he started the whistleblower process before any news of Musk’s involvement with the company. Still, the complaint could give Musk more ammunition in court.
Twitter told both news agencies that Zatko’s disclosure is “riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies,” adding his “allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.”
In coming forward, Zatko told The Washington Post, “I felt ethically bound. This is not a light step to take.”
According to a Whistleblower Aid document sent to a congressional committee, attorneys wrote, “we filed protected, lawful disclosures…based on Mr. Zatko’s reasonable belief that Twitter has been, at all relevant times including today, in violation of numerous laws and regulations.” The attorneys requested the committee initiate an investigation into possible legal violations by Twitter.
Whistleblower Aid also represents Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who testified in front of Congress this past year.