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Aug 26, 2022 5 min read

Twitter Whistleblower Gives Elon Musk False Hope

As if Twitter didn't have enough on its plate without this. The former, and recently fired, Head of Security has made a bunch of serious allegations about failings, weaknesses, and complacency at the social network. What does it all mean for Twitter?

Twitter Whistleblower Gives Elon Musk False Hope


Whistleblower Causes Havoc For Twitter

Insider: A Twitter whistleblower has made some embarrassing allegations this week. He's known as Mudge, a renowned cyber security expert, the former Head of Security at Twitter and was one of the most senior execs at the firm.

Mudge was hired by Jack Dorsey in late 2020 and fired early this year by Parag Agrawal. Mudge had been brought in after the 2020 hack that saw many celebs and famous names have their Twitter accounts hacked. He’d been hired to fix a problem but only lasted just over a year.

  • You might say he has a reason to be hacked off (pun intended!).

Anyhow: Mudge has made some astonishing claims about Twitter.

The headline that caught the news cycle was his claim that Twitter did not actually know how many bot and spam accounts they had. And that they had chosen not to do anything about it.

At the heart of the issue is Twitter’s advertising business model. Twitter’s revenue is directly tied to the number of “active daily users”, regardless of whether they are humans or bots.

  • Twitter has  stated in investor filings that the number of fake, spam and bot accounts is less than 5%. Mudge says Twitter don’t actually know how many there are.

Team Musk: They jumped on this as vindication of Musk’s claim that Twitter had misrepresented the bot situation and he should be allowed to walk away from his $44 billion bid. IMHO, whilst interesting and adding some fuel to Musk’s jets, this won’t change the fundamental case before the Delaware court in October.

  • My money is still on Musk losing and having to go ahead with the takeover.

However, more worrying for Twitter was the claim that Twitter has shit security practices, is vulnerable to foreign exploitation and may even have foreign spies on the payroll.

Serious Stuff: But the most serious allegation is that Twitter violated its “consent decree” commitments with the FTC.

This is the most serious claim against Twitter if it turns out to have substance because it means they’ve failed in their legal obligation to “do better” on matters of privacy, security and protecting users from harm.

  • If found guilty, this could be expensive for Twitter!

Remember: Facebook were fined $5 billion over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Although the headline was about CA, the fine was based on FB’s violation of their “consent decree” with the FTC. (As an aside, just about every Big Tech firm has a consent decree, not just Twitter and Facebook.)

The Twitter allegations come just a few months after Twitter was fined $150 million for using their two factor identification process for marketing purposes without users consent.

The Twitter Musk saga rolls on…and I can’t wait for the movie!

Further Reading

Twitter whistleblower could help Musk by adding ‘volatility’ to legal battle
A whistleblower’s complaint could provide Elon Musk with fresh ammunition in his bid to get out of buying the company for $44 billion.
Here’s how the Twitter whistleblower may impact Big Tech: ‘The danger is real’
Zatko alleged that Twitter executives also allowed low- and mid-level employees to gain access to sensitive controls.
Whistleblower complaint alleges Twitter deceived regulators
Peiter Zatko, a well-known hacker who goes by the pseudonym “Mudge,” was fired from Twitter in January.
Does Elon Musk Have A Get Out Of Jail Free Card Up His Twitter Sleeve?
It’s a tug of war. Elon is pulling one way and the Twitter board the other. My money’s on Twitter, but only a fool would bet against Elon. The question is: what could Elon Musk do to get out of the Twitter deal of his own making? Let me explain…
Elon Blames Twitter Bots For A Mess Of His Own Making
Elon got himself into this mess, now he’s looking for a way out. Blaming it on the bots isn’t going to cut it though. He’s going to have to buy his way out. The question is: at what cost?
Teenage Anxiety Linked to Social Media (Again)
Wiser! Essay: A UK study of 84,000 teenagers has identified a link between heavy social media usage and teenage anxiety. They also found it affects girls between ages 11 and 13. Whereas for boys, the sensitive period is 14 and 15.

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