In a Thursday letter, the House Committee on Homeland Security asked Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to answer questions sparked by incendiary allegations of security violations from the social media company’s former head of security Peiter Zatko.
The Key Facts
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.Rep. Bennie Thompson (D.Miss.), and Rep. Yvette. Clarke (D.Mass.), chairwoman of the cybersecurity subcommittee, expressed their “deep concern” about the allegations made by Zatko in a whistleblower complaint filed with the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission last month and first reported on Tuesday.
Zatko worked for Twitter between late 2020 and January 2022. He claimed that Twitter had failed to safeguard user data, and that it knowingly misled regulators and investors.
Clarke and Thompson noted Twitter has a “staggering security to-do list” if any of Zatko’s assertions are true.
The lawmakers requested written responses from Agrawal by September 8 on eight questions related to Zatko’s assertions, specifically focusing on a claim that Twitter knew its team focused on content moderation was understaffed and how it plans to address political misinformation ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Twitter has denied all of Zatko’s accusations, and Agrawal called the whistleblower complaint a “false narrative riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and presented without important context” in a memo to employees Tuesday. Clarke and Thompson’s letter comes after several Democratic and Republican lawmakers called for an investigation into the company, pointing to Zatko’s claim that Twitter knowingly fell short on its 2011 agreement with the FTC on protections for user privacy and security.
A five-day trial for Twitter’s lawsuit against world’s wealthiest man Elon Musk looking to enforce Musk’s $44 billion purchase of the company will take place in October. Zatko claims that Twitter deliberately undercounted spam accounts and false profiles on its platform. This claim was previously raised by Musk. The allegations against him have been kept quiet by Musk, who was a billionaire. tweetedTuesday: A meme about whistleblowing and a photo of it Washington Post report about Twitter’s board’s knowledge of “spam detection” efforts at the company.
Twitter shares are down more than 5% since Monday’s market close.
Tweet Whistleblower: This is What Former Security Chief Peiter Zatko Claims (SME)
Lawmakers investigate Twitter security chief’s whistleblower allegations (Washington Post)