Twitter Whistleblower Says Execs Committed Fraud Around Bots and User Counts

A cover letter from lawyers representing Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Twitter’s former head of security, disclosed evidence of alleged legal violations and fraud made by the company in recent years. Twitter’s former head of cybersecurity accused the social media company of committing fraud and numerous “egregious” security violations in an explosive whistleblower complaint revealed Tuesday, shaking confidence in the much-maligned platform and sending Twitter stock down about 7%.

Two weeks ago, I had a video that indicated that Twitter’s use of the made up metric monetizable daily active users (mDAU) made it easier to lie about actual Twitter activity and user counts. The mDAU was part of the whistleblower allegations of fraud. If the amount of bots were 50% then it could have masked a Myspace like decline over the past 8 years at Twitter. These new whistleblower allegations seem to confirm much of what I described in my video.

Zatko accuses Twitter executives of “lying about bots” to Musk, shareholders and Twitter users, alleging that the platform has far more spam accounts than it lets on, and that executives are disincentivized to count them properly because doing so would negatively affect their bonuses.

Zatko suggests that if the real percentage of spam bots were to become known, it would “hurt the image and valuation of the company.” And he alleges in the complaint that he once witnessed a Twitter executive telling members of the company’s board of directors that Twitter had “intentionally and knowingly deprioritized platform health” in favor of growing mDAU.

Twitter execs would get about $10 million in bonuses based on increasing the mDAU metric.

Other allegations: Twitter violated the terms of an 11-year-old settlement with the Federal Trade Commission by falsely claiming that it had a solid security plan. Zatko’s complaint alleges he had warned colleagues that half the company’s servers were running out-of-date and vulnerable software and that executives withheld dire facts about the number of breaches and lack of protection for user data, instead presenting directors with rosy charts measuring unimportant changes.

11 thoughts on “Twitter Whistleblower Says Execs Committed Fraud Around Bots and User Counts”

  1. Adding insult to injury, not only didn’t my comment post, when I tried reposting it I got a notice that I was posting too fast, slow down.

    • I don’t care if they have a bot issue that appears to increase usage numbers. What matters is this. You’ve completely ignored Zatko‘s statements on bots disseminating false information, Russia and China messing with our democracy and general security. That’s what matters.

      • That does appear to be the bigger issue: If the bots were just meaningless fluff, who cares? It becomes a serious problem if half the seeming users are bots being used to manipulate and/or spy on the actual users.

        And that’s kind of what you’d expect, because, otherwise, why bother deploying the bot?

        • People and companies would deploy the bot not just for power and to influence public sentiment but for financial gain. Gathering followers and then pumping out articles for money. Building up social media presence of companies and individuals and getting paid to do that service. So the purposes are for money and power. Twitter ignored it mainly for money or preventing the loss of money. Doing it to earn bonuses and to prevent the company from collapsing like Myspace.

  2. I thought the interesting part was the statement that many of Twitter’s employees were likely foreign spies. Add that to the administration picking TikTok, of all platforms, to run its 2022 election assistance app, and we’re likely penetrated to an extent the USSR could only have dreamed of during the cold war.

  3. I thought the most interesting part was the claim that twitter employs a fair number of probable communist Chinese spies.

    Between that, and the Biden administration picking TikTok of all platforms to run it’s 2022 election assistance app, at this point the Chinese have us more heavily penetrated than the USSR every managed during the Cold war.

    • I mean… the Soviet Union and North Korea never had stock markets, like China has. And China has HUGE stock markets, btw.

      They have a VERY weird system, but calling it communist is not productive imho, because it’s so different from communism like the Soviet Union or North Korea.

      • They’re obviously not communists, but they call themselves communists, so the moniker isn’t going away.

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