Twitter is overhauling its spam-fighting team after a whistleblower accused the company of lying to federal regulators and Elon Musk about bots
Twitter is overhauling its spam-fighting team in the wake of an explosive whistleblower complaint by former head of security Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Reuters first reported.
Twitter is merging a team that combats toxic content, called the “health experience” team, with its “service” team, which is responsible for taking down spam accounts, the company confirmed to Insider.
The combined team will be called “health products and services,” according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. It will be led by Ella Irwin, vice president of product for health and Twitter service, who said in the memo that it will “ruthlessly prioritize” projects.
One of Zatko’s whistleblower complaints, published Tuesday, accused Twitter of under-resourcing teams tasked with taking down spam accounts, saying they were “overworked, inefficient, understaffed, and reactive” during his time at the company.
Zatko also accused Twitter of “lying” to its prospective buyer Elon Musk, saying executives at the company were not incentivized to measure spam accurately and practiced “deliberate ignorance” about their existence.
A Twitter spokesperson told Insider: “Stopping bad actors, creating more transparency around how we support a healthy platform, while also helping promote and encourage diverse thoughts and conversations, continues to be foundational to everything we do and how we organize our teams.”
Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion in April but in July announced he planned to abandon the deal, saying Twitter had not been honest about the number of bot accounts on its platform. Twitter is suing Musk trying to force him to complete his acquisition.
Legal experts told Insider that Zatko’s accusations are unlikely to be a silver bullet for Musk in his battle against Twitter, but might put pressure on the company to settle the case.
Twitter has characterized Zatko, who left the company in January 2022, as a disgruntled former employee who was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”
After Zatko’s complaints were published Tuesday, a Twitter spokesperson said: “What we’ve seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context.”
They added: “Mr. Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.”