Twitter whistleblower plays into Elon Musk’s game

The allegations are also serious enough that Ives thinks they would be a major point for politicians looking into social media malpractice, and they are likely to lead to commissions of inquiry. “If what Zatko alleges is true, Twitter has breached the trust of its users and deceived the Federal Trade Commission and its administrators,” says Christopher Bouzy of Bot Sentinel, whose access to Twitter data was threatened with deletion this week. A timing that is “not a coincidence”, according to him. Lindsay McCallum-Rémy, spokesperson for Twitter, says the account in question “has received a warning for violating our developer policy which is the result of a routine examination.

Twitter denies any failure

The essential question is whether the allegations are true or not. Lindsay McCallum-Rémy says Peiter Zatko was fired in January 2022 “for ineffective leadership and poor performance” and says, “What we’ve seen so far is a misguided narrative on Twitter and our privacy and privacy practices. data security, which is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context. Mr. Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders. Security and privacy have long been priorities for the entire Twitter business and will continue to be. »

The fact that such allegations have surfaced now shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, no matter how big this bombshell. “Concealment allegations are a very common basis for a fraud complaint,” says Adam Pritchard, a University of Michigan law professor who specializes in corporate law. “In this situation, Musk has the opportunity to argue that even with due diligence he would not have discovered the problem. »

The circumstances surrounding the revelations work in Musk’s favor, Pritchard believes. “It makes it easier for him to argue that this is a material adverse change rather than something he waived when he waived due diligence,” he said. As always, it’s all about negotiating leverage, and that gives Musk a bit more clout. »

‘It might just give Musk the way out he wants’

For Christopher Bouzy, the situation seems settled: “I believe that Elon Musk will use this latest revelation in court to prove that the leaders of Twitter deceived him, he said. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t see a scenario where the court would force Musk to buy Twitter if the allegations are true. »

Paul Fisher, who teaches negotiation at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, is not a lawyer either. But he thinks the takeover is now a done deal – and not in the way Twitter wanted. “I think that might just give Musk the way out he wants,” he said. In any negotiation, especially when it comes to the sale or purchase of an asset, transparency and the transmission of all material information that could affect the price is essential. In many cases, if the buyer determines that these statements were untrue at the time of the transaction, he may be entitled to terminate the agreement or certainly to seek substantial compensation from the seller. »

McCallum-Rémy declined to comment on how the revelations would affect Musk’s takeover court case, or how Twitter intended to respond. “I think Twitter will just stand their ground, bet Dhar, but they need to start showing evidence that they were trying to do something about it, and that the deal was in good faith. »

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