By BARBARA ORTUTAY – AP Technology Writer
Elon Musk may have just had a head start in his efforts to give up buying Twitter.
Tesla’s billionaire CEO has spent months alleging that the company he agreed to buy for $44 billion underestimated its fake accounts and spam – and that he shouldn’t have to make the deal agreement accordingly.
Now, a whistleblower complaint from Twitter’s former security chief alleging the company misled regulators about its privacy and security protections — and its ability to detect and root out fakes. accounts – could play into Musk’s hands at an upcoming trial scheduled for Oct. 17 in Delaware.
Musk’s legal team, in fact, has already issued a subpoena for whistleblower Peiter Zatko – also known by his hacker name “Mudge” – who served as Twitter’s chief security officer until recently. until he is fired at the beginning of this year.
Alex Spiro, an attorney representing Musk in his efforts to back down from buying Twitter, said the legal team “found his way out and that of other key employees curious in light of what we found.”
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The disclosure of the Mudge document changes the dynamic of the Twitter lawsuit from what seemed like an easy win for Twitter, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in an interview. “For Musk, it’s almost like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and seeing this under the tree,” he said. “It gives the Musk camp a leg up to get into the legal battle.”
The whistleblower’s complaint reinforces Musk’s claims about the spambot problem and will draw more attention to the problem in Washington, Ives said. “For Twitter’s board, it’s their worst nightmare for this to come out at such a critical time.”
But Ives called the timing of the lawsuit “extremely interesting” just weeks before the Delaware trial.
Twitter called the complaint a “false narrative” about the company and its privacy and data security practices “that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context.”
In an emailed statement, the company said “Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to attract attention and harm Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.”
AP business writer Tom Krisher contributed to this story.
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