Twitter whistleblower says at least one Chinese agent is at company

Elon Musk seeks to narrow SEC consent decree, end pre-approval of tweets
Elon Musk seeks to narrow SEC consent decree, end pre-approval of tweets Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters
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By Sheila Dang

- Disclosures from a former Twitter Inc executive turned whistleblower show that at least one Chinese agent is working at the company, Senator Chuck Grassley said in his opening remarks during a Senate hearing on Tuesday featuring testimony from the whistleblower.

The testimony of Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, a famed hacker who served as Twitter's head of security until his firing last year, comes as Twitter and Musk head to trial next month over whether the $44 billion deal should be completed.

Later on Tuesday, Twitter will also announce the results of a shareholder vote on Tesla CEO Elon Musk's takeover of the company. A majority of shareholders have already approved the deal, sources told Reuters.

The San Francisco-based company sued Musk for terminating the agreement, while the Tesla chief executive countersued, accusing Twitter of misrepresenting the number of false and spam accounts on its service.

A Delaware judge ruled last week that Musk may include Zatko's whistleblower claims in his case against Twitter, but denied his request to delay the trial.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning Zatko over his claims that Twitter misled regulators about its compliance with a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over improper handling of user data.

Since then, Twitter has made "little meaningful progress on basic security, integrity and privacy systems," Zatko's complaint filed with regulators in July said.

The committee, chaired by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, is also expected to press Zatko on his allegation that one or more of Twitter's employees worked on behalf of foreign governments.

Durbin, speaking to reporters on Monday, said Zatko's claims were "a matter of grave personal and privacy concern."

Twitter has said Zatko was fired for "ineffective leadership and poor performance," and that his allegations appeared designed to harm Twitter.

Zatko's whistleblower complaint appeared to contain over two pages of links to supporting documents, such as emails between Zatko and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and an assessment of misinformation and disinformation on Twitter. The number of documents was limited compared to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who released thousands of pages of internal material.

(This story refiles to correct spelling error in Durbin in paragraph 8)

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