Twitter’s former head of security has accused the company of misleading regulators about its cybersecurity defences and its problems with fake accounts.

Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko, who was fired from the social media company earlier this year, filed whistleblower complaints last month with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, according to reports by The Washington Post and CNN.

Among the more serious accusations in the complaint obtained by the Post, Twitter allegedly violated the terms of a 2010 settlement with a US trade regulator by falsely claiming that it had a strong security plan.

Zatko is a famed hacker and one of America’s top cybersecurity experts. He served as Twitter’s security lead from November 2020 till he was fired this year.

In an 84-page complaint, Zatko alleged that Twitter falsely claimed it had a solid security plan and said he had warned colleagues that half the company’s servers were running out-of-date and vulnerable software, according to the reports.

The alleged security vulnerabilities reportedly led to frequent serious security breaches, exploitation by bad actors, and infiltration by foreign governments.

Zatko did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, but told the Post he ‘felt ethically bound’ to come forward.

Twitter said in a statement on Tuesday that Zatko was fired for ‘ineffective leadership and poor performance’ and the ‘allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders’.

‘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,’ said the company.

A spokesperson for the US Senate’s intelligence committee, Rachel Cohen, said the committee has received the complaint and ‘is in the process of setting up a meeting to discuss the allegations in further detail. We take this matter seriously’.

The whistleblower filing comes as the social media company is embroiled in a legal battle with Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk after the world’s richest person said in July he was ending an agreement to buy the company in a $44 billion deal alleging it had violated the deal contract.

Musk has accused Twitter of hiding information about how it calculates the percentage of bots on the service. A trial is scheduled for October 17.

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