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Twitter whistleblower backs up Elon Musk’s bot claims

Testimony from a Twitter whistleblower has backed up claims by Elon Musk that the company is underreporting bot accounts.

Former Twitter security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko has issued a 84-page complaint concerning the company’s conduct, which is currently being examined by congressional committees in the US.

Among the explosive claims made by the Twitter whistleblower, which have been revealed in joint reports from CNN and The Washington Post, are some that will inevitably be used by Elon Musk in his ongoing legal spat with the platform. Key among these is the claim that Twitter’s executives lack both the resources and the motivation to understand the extent of the platform’s bot problem.

According to Zatko’s lawyer, his client hasn’t been in contact with Musk, and he began the whistleblowing process before Musk began the process of buying the company. Indeed, Zatko’s claims go well beyond potential support for the high profile Tesla CEO’s case.

“Twitter has major security problems that pose a threat to its own users’ personal information, to company shareholders, to national security, and to democracy,” summarises CNN. According to Zatko, Twitter’s leadership has misled its own board and government regulators about the extent of the platform’s security vulnerabilities.

Twitter is described as a “chaotic and reckless environment” that permits too much access to the platform’s central controls, and which doesn’t reliably delete user information when accounts are cancelled. Alarmingly, Zatko also suggests that at least one current employee may be working for a foreign intelligence service.

Zatko was fired from Twitter in January 2022 for alleged “ineffective leadership and poor performance”. Zatko, for his part, claims that the dismissal came in response to his attempts to highlight and fix the company’s vulnerabilities.

“Mr. Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders,” said a Twitter spokesperson. “Security and privacy have long been company-wide priorities at Twitter and will continue to be.”

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