Twitter Inc. paid a whistle-blower who complained about the social media site’s operational problems $7 million to keep silent, according to a lawyer representing Elon Musk. The payment was mentioned in passing at a hearing on September 6 in the conflict between Twitter and Musk over his attempts to back out of a $44 billion takeover of the company.
People with knowledge of the situation verified that Alex Spiro, Musk’s attorney, was referring to a payment made to whistle-blower Peiter Zatko when he remarked at the hearing, “They’re paying the man $7 million and making sure he’s quiet.”
The payment to Zatko, the company’s former head of security, was reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, but Twitter representatives declined to comment on it. Unnamed sources are familiar with the case who spoke to the publication claim that the payment was a part of a settlement involving Zatko’s unrecovered compensation after leaving Twitter. The arrangement barred Zatko from speaking in public but let him to operate as a government whistle-blower regarding his time at the social media behemoth, the Journal reported, citing the aware parties. Musk withdrew from his purchase of the social media network after claiming that Twitter had lied to him and investors about the prevalence of spam and bot accounts among its more than 230 million members. Twitter responded by claiming that Musk’s concerns about the bot are a pretext to cancel a deal after the richest man in the world allegedly suffered from buyer’s remorse.
Both parties are getting ready for the trial of Twitter’s lawsuit to force Musk to finish the transaction, which is scheduled for October. On Wednesday, Delaware Chancery Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick granted Musk’s request to include Zatko’s accusations in his counterclaims.She, however, rejected his request to postpone the trial. Prior to being fired from the social media platform, the billionaire alleges that Zatko expressed worries about the number of bots present in Twitter’s user base as well as allegations of inadequate data security and privacy issues. Musk claims that Zatko’s charges back up his claims that he had a legitimate reason to reject the offer. During their presentation to McCormick, Twitter’s lawyers criticised Zatko’s honesty, saying that his accusations were false and driven by a desire to harm the company he was fired from.
“The problem is that they paid him $7 million,” Spiro told the judge. If he genuinely wanted money, then why is he still doing this if he doesn’t want justice also?
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