Twitter Whistleblower Levies Shocking Charges About Threats to User Info, National Security

AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File

A whistleblower has dropped explosive allegations against Twitter in a disclosure document sent to Congress and multiple federal agencies indicating that Twitter has “major security problems that pose a threat to its own users’ personal information, to company shareholders, to national security, and to democracy.” CNN obtained the disclosure document and interviewed the whistleblower.


According to the former head of security, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, thousands of employees — almost half the workforce — have access to the platform’s central controls and the most sensitive information on users without adequate oversight. The report notes that one or more current employees may even be working for foreign intelligence.

The whistleblower report says the US government provided specific evidence to Twitter shortly before Zatko’s firing that at least one of its employees, perhaps more, were working for another government’s intelligence service. The report does not say whether Twitter was already aware or if it subsequently acted on the tip. [….]

Zatko’s report is becoming public just two weeks after a former Twitter manager was convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia.

Zatko says Twitter has also made false and misleading statements to the FTC and has been violating an agreement they entered into in 2010 after the FTC found they weren’t protecting user information.


On top of that, Zatko explained that the senior-most executives have been trying to cover up these vulnerabilities. Zatko was fired from Twitter in January. He says he was fired because he tried to flag these concerns to Twitter’s board. He says that current CEO Parag Agrawal and his lieutenants tried to discourage him from fully informing the board as to what was going on.

Zatko also revealed that their method of measuring bots was misleading. That could help the case that Elon Musk currently has against Twitter in which he claims that they were misrepresenting how many bots were on the site to him. Alex Spiro, an attorney for Musk, told CNN, “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.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and also received the report, vowed to investigate “and take further steps as needed to get to the bottom of these alarming allegations.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the same panel’s top Republican and an avid Twitter user, also expressed deep concerns about the allegations in a statement to CNN.

“Take a tech platform that collects massive amounts of user data, combine it with what appears to be an incredibly weak security infrastructure and infuse it with foreign state actors with an agenda, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster,” Grassley said. “The claims I’ve received from a Twitter whistleblower raise serious national security concerns as well as privacy issues, and they must be investigated further.”


Add that into the existing concerns about bias on the platform and essentially serving as Democratic operatives. Grassley is right on target when he talks about a disaster waiting to happen. Congress needs to be grilling them on all these issues because this puts everyone’s communications and privacy at risk.


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