Musk sues Twitter whistleblower in spam account takeover lawsuit

Former Twitter head of security and whistleblower Peiter Zatko has been subpoenaed by Elon Musk. Musk wants Zatko to testify in Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk. Musk and Zatko say Twitter is not being honest about the number of spam accounts on the platform.

Zatko must testify in a US court on September 9, documents show who publishes The Verge. The whistleblower must also share any material he has about the spam accounts. Zatko has not yet responded to the summons, so it is not clear whether he will comply.

The whistleblower says, among other things, that Twitter does not know how many bots the platform has and that the company does not necessarily want to find out. If the true number of spam accounts were revealed, it could be damaging to Twitter’s value and image, Zatko said based on conversations with business leaders. The figures that Twitter does mention are percentages based on the number of monetizable daily active users and not on the total number of users.

The number of spam accounts is important to Musk, because he wants to use this to get out of his takeover of Twitter. Musk claims Twitter has more spam accounts than the platform indicates and says he doesn’t get enough data from the company to get more clarity about this. In July, Twitter sued Musk to force him to take over the platform.

With Zatko’s lawsuit and testimony, Musk hopes to convince the court that Twitter is lying about the number of spam accounts and that the billionaire doesn’t need to take over the platform. In addition to the takeover lawsuit, Zatko will appear in a US Senate public hearing later in September to discuss the company’s alleged security vulnerabilities.