TWITTER whistleblower Peiter Zatko was grilled in the US Congress this afternoon, adding further ammunition to Elon Musk’s legal battle with the social media giant over his stunted takeover.
Twitter’s former head of security, who was fired last year, accused the company of misleading regulators about cyber security, as well as its management of bot accounts. In an explosive disclosure this afternoon, Zatko said that at least one Chinese agent was working at the company.
Twitter has previously said that Zatko’s allegations were a “false narrative… riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies”.
The bots and fake accounts issue is a particular point of contention for Tesla founder Musk, who pulled out of his $44bn takeover of the firm back in July.
A Delaware judge ruled last week that Musk’s legal team could use Zatko’s claims in the billionaire’s defence and are likely used by the legal team to suggest that Twitter made a number of violations to its buyout agreement first agreed in April.
Twitter has around 237.8m daily active users that it deems as a monetisable. The world’s richest man has suggested as many as a third of Twitter’s users could be bots.
Reuters reported that Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal had been invited by the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify, but he rejected the offer. Twitter declined to comment on this.
However, it’s not just the whistleblower claims that are adding fuel to the fire of this already bitter legal battle.
Sources told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that early shareholder votes have suggested that investors are keen to green light the takeover deal.
Musk is the company’s largest shareholder, with a roughly 10 per cent stake, and could, in theory, vote on the matter. However, insiders suggested this was unlikely considering the legal battle taking place in court.
If shareholders vote in favour of the deal, this puts the fate almost entirely in the hands of the judges.
A trial in Delaware is set to kick off in mid October weighing up whether the eccentric billionaire was justified in backing out of the deal