Amid the ongoing legal battle over the $44 million deal, billionaire Elon Musk told Twitter on Friday that its decision to pay millions of dollars to a whistleblower it had fired gives him another justification for terminating the agreement to buy the microblogging giant. Musk’s remarks came after Twitter’s decision to pay $7 million to the whistleblower ‘to settle a dispute’ came to light after a report by the Wall Street Journal.
“Twitter’s failure to seek his consent before paying $7.75 million to Peiter Zatko (whistleblower) and his lawyers violated the merger agreement, which restricted when Twitter could make such payments,” Elon Musk’s lawyers said in a letter to the social media company.
Peiter Zatko, who served as Twitter’s security chief until he was fired early this year, accused the social media firm of falsely claiming it had a solid security plan and misleading regulators about its poor cybersecurity defences. He also alleged that the company neglected any attempts to root out fake accounts that spread disinformation.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO had previously said that Twitter is ridden with ‘bots, spams and fake accounts,’ forcing him to terminate the takeover deal. Earlier on Tuesday, again hitting out at Twitter, Musk tweeted that 90 per cent of the comments on his tweets are actually bots or spam replies.
Musk’s lawyers said they learned of Zatko’s agreement Sept 3 – when Twitter filed paperwork in court. Zatko is scheduled to testify before a US Senate committee next week on his concerns about lax security, privacy issues and the number of bots on the platform. He has been subpoenaed to testify in the Twitter lawsuit, as well.
With inputs from news agencies