SAN FRANCISCO | Twitter shareholders on Tuesday approved the agreement to buy the platform by Elon Musk, just after the hearing of a whistleblower who, like the billionaire, accuses the company of having concealed problems.
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The vote consolidates the social network’s position one month before the opening of the lawsuit it launched against Mr. Musk to force him to honor his commitment. At the beginning of July, the boss of Tesla and SpaceX had unilaterally terminated the contract signed at the end of April for the acquisition of Twitter at 54.20 dollars per share, or a valuation of 44 billion dollars.
But this election represents a meager consolation for the blue bird decried in public by a former senior official. Peiter Zatko, the former security chief of Twitter fired in January, detailed on Tuesday his report submitted to US authorities this summer on serious security breaches.
“Twitter’s management is deceiving elected officials, regulators and even its own board of directors,” he told the senators of the Judiciary Committee at the outset.
“They don’t know what data they have, where it is, where it comes from and so obviously they can’t protect it,” said the expert better known by his pseudonym, Mudge. “Employees have too much access (…) it doesn’t matter who has the keys if you don’t have locks on the doors,” he said.
“Profits before safety”
The 51-year-old computer scientist, recruited at the end of 2020 after a spectacular hacking of certain profiles, claims to have tried to alert the group’s senior officials, in vain. “They don’t have the skills to understand the extent of the problem,” he said. “Most importantly, their executive bonuses incentivize them to put profits before safety.”
This remark “is partly invalidated by its admission that Twitter is a + service of great value +”, commented Jasmine Enberg, analyst of Insider Intelligence. But Mudge’s allegations still harm “the image of Twitter, which has made the safety and security of its users a priority,” she added.
At the end of August, the revelation by the press of the report of the whistleblower, highly respected in the cybersecurity community, had the effect of a bomb. Twitter dismissed these accusations as unfounded, but they came at a good time for Elon Musk.
He who once wanted to make the platform a public place “essential to democracy”, believes that the San Francisco-based company lied to him about the proportion of automated accounts and spam among its users. In his opinion, it would greatly exceed the 5% estimated by the management of Twitter.
But Peiter Zatko directly mentions in his report the questions asked by the boss of Tesla on bots. He mentions “misleading” statements by Parag Agrawal, the network’s boss, and claims that Twitter’s tools are “outdated”, its teams “overwhelmed” and “inefficient”.
Claims that Elon Musk’s lawyers will try to use to their advantage during the trial scheduled for mid-October in a specialized court.
“For Wall Street, Zatko’s Senate testimony puts more pressure on the Twitter camp,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives tweeted.
“I did not make my whistleblower disclosures out of malice or to harm Twitter,” Mudge assured senators on Tuesday. “Given the real damage to users and national security, I decided it was necessary to take the personal and professional risk, for me and my family, to raise the alarm,” he explained. .
For his part, Elon Musk tweeted a popcorn-shaped emoji, suggesting that he was following the audition with relish.