Peiter Zatko, a former security officer at Twitter, has alleged that at one point the Indian government forced the company to put a person on its payroll, who was probably an agent.
The Washington Post reported Zatko alleging that he was certain that this person was an agent of the Indian government and had access to user data during times of intense protests in the country. The US-based newspaper verified this information with an unnamed source, who also agreed that it was probably a government agent.
While it does not specify what this period of intense protest was, it is likely that this happened during the anti-CAA protests.
Zatko's allegation comes at a time when the Indian government has consistently clamped down on Twitter, requesting it to take down content. BOOM had earlier reported that from 2019 to mid-2022 the overall requests for the takedown of Twitter content have risen to 7,745.
Zatko is a famous hacker, who also goes by the name of "Mudge" on Twitter. He was part of the company between November 2020 to January 2022, hired by former CEO Jack Dorsey. Zatko has alleged that he was fired by CEO Parag Agrawal after he began documenting the security violations. According to The New York Times, the disclosure was sent to several agencies in the US on July 6 including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission on July 6.
In his disclosures and documents, Zatko said that the company was grossly negligent when it came to information security and its "egregious deficiencies" could have threatened national security of the United States. He also alleged that Twitter deliberately misled users, board members and even government officials about it.
Twitter also allegedly prioritised user growth over fighting spam. Citing the following tweet, Zatko claimed that Agarwal was lying as he knew Twitter executives were not incentivised to detect bots over real people.
Not fit to fight disinformation
One of the supporting documents that Zatko provided, said that Twitter lacked organisational staffing to fight problems such as misinformation, especially in priority growth markets like Asia and Africa. The assessment report said that one such example is its misinformation team only had two people, whereas it needed at least eight.
The report also highlights how the people who were on these teams lacked cultural context or even language proficiency to successfully tackle misinformation.
This revelation is significant in the Indian context since disinformation spread through Twitter affects the lives of people, the decisions they take while voting and the public perception of the current government.
Citing the 2020 US elections as an example, the assessment document said that employees were pulled into monitoring that particular event, leaving other sections vulnerable.
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