Twitter lied about the number of fake accounts, Elon Musk was right

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Peiter Zatko, the former head of computer security at Twitter, has just denounced the unscrupulous practices of the social network in terms of security to several US media. He also claims that the company did indeed lie about the number of bots present on the platform. Explosive accusations that could well have an impact on the lawsuit between Elon Musk and Twitter.

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After the revelations provided by this whistleblower about the practices of Facebook, it is the turn of a former Tech executive to reveal the shortcomings of another social network: Twitter. Peiter Zatko, former head of computer security for the platform, has just denounced in detail the company’s dubious practices in a 200-page report provided to CNN and the Washington Post.

This former hacker, whose reputation is legendary in the industry, points his finger dozens of frauds committed in recent years. Among the most serious facts, it states in particular that Twitter violated an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, related to compliance with certain security standards on the platform. He also filed a complaint with this institution for the same reasons.

This commitment, made in 2011, was primarily concerned with the security that Twitter offers its users. However, and according to the complainant’s report, half of the company’s servers are still running outdated software and therefore are particularly vulnerable to computer attacks.

Zatko joined Twitter at the request of Jack Dorsey

In an interview with CNN, Mr. Zatko recounts joining Twitter in 2020 at the request of Jack Dorsey, still CEO of the social network at the time. The creator of the blue bird wanted Peiter Zatko’s experience to strengthen security systems. Remember, Twitter had been hit by a massive cyberattack, which resulted in the hijacking of accounts belonging to important and famous personalitieslike that of Barack Obama, Bill Gates or Kanye West.

After spending two years trying to patch numerous security flaws in Twitter’s systems, he was sacked in January 2022 by the new executive board led by Parag Agrawal. According to Peiter Zatko, he was fired for refusing to remain silent about the company’s security vulnerabilities and questionable practices.

The former pirate justifies his pronouncement by assuring that he still has a duty “towards Jack and the users of the platform”. I want to finish the job Jack hired me to do, which is to improve the platform.”

Also Read: Twitter: Personal Data Of 5.4 Million Users Is Up For Sale For $30,000

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Report confirms Twitter lies to Elon Musk

The report harbors another time bomb. In fact, Peiter Zatko confirms that Twitter lied to Elon Musk about the number of active fake accounts. In a tweet published on May 16, Parag Agrawal stated that these bots represented less than 5% of the 450 million users monthly assets. “This tweet was a lie. In truth, Agrawal is well aware that Twitter executives have no interest in accurately detecting or reporting spambots.” He complains.

Worse yet, it specifies that leaders are incentivized (via annual bonuses of up to $10 million) to continually increase the number of users instead of removing bots.

As you can imagine, these accusations could have a significant impact on the next lawsuit in October 2022 between Twitter and Elon Musk. The two entities are locked in a legal standoff after Tesla’s boss backed out of a $44 billion Twitter takeover deal. And while Jack Dorsey was added to the list of witnesses called to the bar this Tuesday, August 23, 2022, Elon Musk’s lawyers have already “issued a summons to Mr. Zatko.”

The billionaire’s representatives add that they have found “the departure of Mr. Zatko and those of other curious employees in light of what we have discovered.” A direct reference to the doubts expressed by Elon Musk about the number of fake accounts present on Twitter.

Various and disturbing accusations

Of course, Mr. Zakto’s disclosures to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) contain other allegations:

  • indiscriminate access : A significant part of the vulnerability of Twitter’s systems is due to too many employees having access to the most critical systems. Zakto states that half of the 7,000 employees can see personal data users and access internal software used to modify the way Twitter works
  • Access to personal data of users by government officialsespecially in India
  • Data wipe error Note: Twitter has not deleted user data in the past, despite requests. The reason ? This data is too scattered across internal systems to be found

Twitter’s response to these revelations was immediate. The social network accuses Peiter Zatko to enter sensationalism and present the facts selectively: “More than six months ago, Mr. Zatko was fired from his top position at Twitter for poor performance and ineffective leadership. While we have not had access to the specific allegations you refer to, what we have seen so far is a narrative about our privacy and data security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and lacks important context.” . Twitter concludes.

Source: Washington Post

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