Twitter’s former head of cybersecurity has accused the company of a number of egregious security flaws and oversights, according to a whistleblower complaint filed with the U.S. government earlier this year.
The complaint, first published by The Washington Post and CNN, makes a wide range of damning claims about Twitter, including that members of the company’s board of directors misled the public and government agencies about the company’s security. The former security chief alleged in the complaint that he was told to withhold a major security report from Twitter’s board and to write misleading security documents.
Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a veteran cybersecurity expert widely respected in the industry, filed the complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice in July. Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit that provides legal assistance to whistleblowers, confirmed the complaint’s authenticity.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal fired Zatko and another top security official in a shakeup of that department in January.
In a statement in response to the whistleblower complaint, a Twitter spokesperson called Zatko’s account “a false narrative” and said Zatko was fired because he displayed “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”
The complaint comes at a particularly sensitive time for Twitter, which is fighting in court to ensure that Tesla CEO Elon Musk goes through with a deal to purchase Twitter for more than $44 billion. Musk is trying to pull out of the deal. Musk’s legal argument rests on alleging Twitter misled investors about its product, including how well it fights fake accounts.
Zatko’s complaint appears to Bolster’s Musk’s claims about spam on Twitter, saying that Agrrawal “knows very well that Twitter executives are not incentivized to accurately ‘detect’ or report total spam bots on the platform.”
NBC News reached out to Zatko for comment while CNBC contacted the SEC, DOJ and FTC, but didn’t immediately receive any responses.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.