San Francisco A former head of security at Twitter is now accusing the online service of inadequate measures to protect users. Peiter Zatko, who was fired by the company in January, filed a complaint as a whistleblower with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). One of his criticisms is that too many Twitter employees have access to central systems of the service and user data such as telephone numbers. Twitter denied the allegations and in return accused Zatko of wanting to harm his former employer with the accusations.
The complaint filed in July became known on Tuesday after the TV channel CNN and the “Washington Post” had gained access to the paper and Zatko gave interviews to the two media. 51-year-old Zatko was once known as a hacker. Twitter co-founder and longtime BOSS Jack Dorsey hired him in 2020 to improve the security of the platform.
One of Zatko’s allegations could also play a role in the current tussle between Twitter and tech billionaire Elon Musk. He claims that the company has no reliable methods to determine the number of fake accounts on the platform. Musk made the issue of fake profiles and automated bot accounts a central argument in his attempt to get out of the roughly $44 billion Twitter takeover. Twitter wants to get Musk to sign the deal in court.
Twitter has been estimating for years that the number of fake accounts is less than five percent. Musk claims that there must be much more – and accuses the service of depriving him of access to data with which he could prove this. At the same time, Twitter has always made it clear that the figure is only based on an estimate and also states that one million fake profiles are deleted every day.
A Twitter spokeswoman told the Washington Post and CNN that although the company did not have access to detailed allegations from Zatko, according to previous findings, they had many “inaccuracies”. Twitter continues to stand by the information provided so far and Zatko has been dismissed for “poor performance”.