Twitter covered up fake accounts and security flaws, says US whistleblower
Twitter has been hiding major security flaws from customers and government officials for years, the US social media company's former security chief Peiter Zatko said in a whistleblower complaint.
Twitter misled federal regulators over its cyber security defenses against hackers and spam accounts, and significantly underestimates the number of fake accounts, Zatko said.
Zatko's filing, which includes market watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission accuses Twitter of "negligence, willful ignorance, and threats to national security and democracy."
Twitter's ex-security chief also warned of obsolete servers, software vulnerable to computer attacks and executives seeking to hide the number of hacking attempts.
The filing said Twitter prioritizes growing its user base over fighting spam and bots,
Zatko accused the platform and its CEO Parag Agrawal of issuing untrue statements on account numbers because "if accurate measurements ever became public, it would harm the image and valuation of the company."
Twitter said in a statement that, "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."
The issue of Twitter's fake accounts has become a crucial point in US billionaire Elon Musk 's argument for canceling his $44 billion deal to buy the company.
Musk has repeatedly accused the company of minimizing the number of bot accounts on its platform, and he tweeted Tuesday "spam prevalence *was* shared with the board, but the board chose not disclose that to the public..."
US lawmakers immediately raised concerns about the allegations in Zatko's filing and have pledged to look into them.
"If these claims are accurate, they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world," Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement.