Twitter Whistleblower Says Execs Committed Fraud Around Bots and User Counts

A cover letter from lawyers representing Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Twitter’s former head of security, disclosed evidence of alleged legal violations and fraud made by the company in recent years. Twitter’s former head of cybersecurity accused the social media company of committing fraud and numerous “egregious” security violations in an explosive whistleblower complaint revealed Tuesday, shaking…
Twitter Whistleblower Says Execs Committed Fraud Around Bots and User Counts


A cover letter from lawyers representing Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Twitter’s former head of security, disclosed evidence of alleged legal violations and fraud made by the company in recent years. Twitter’s former head of cybersecurity accused the social media company of committing fraud and numerous “egregious” security violations in an explosive whistleblower complaint revealed Tuesday, shaking confidence in the much-maligned platform and sending Twitter stock down about 7%.

Two weeks ago, I had a video that indicated that Twitter’s use of the made up metric monetizable daily active users (mDAU) made it easier to lie about actual Twitter activity and user counts. The mDAU was part of the whistleblower allegations of fraud. If the amount of bots were 50% then it could have masked a Myspace like decline over the past 8 years at Twitter. These new whistleblower allegations seem to confirm much of what I described in my video.

Zatko accuses Twitter executives of “lying about bots” to Musk, shareholders and Twitter users, alleging that the platform has far more spam accounts than it lets on, and that executives are disincentivized to count them properly because doing so would negatively affect their bonuses.

Zatko suggests that if the real percentage of spam bots were to become known, it would “hurt the image and valuation of the company.” And he alleges in the complaint that he once witnessed a Twitter executive telling members of the company’s board of directors that Twitter had “intentionally and knowingly deprioritized platform health” in favor of growing mDAU.

Twitter execs would get about $10 million in bonuses based on increasing the mDAU metric.

Other allegations: Twitter violated the terms of an 11-year-old settlement with the Federal Trade Commission by falsely claiming that it had a solid security plan. Zatko’s complaint alleges he had warned colleagues that half the company’s servers were running out-of-date and vulnerable software and that executives withheld dire facts about the number of breaches and lack of protection for user data, instead presenting directors with rosy charts measuring unimportant changes.

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