Twitter Knew Chinese Spies Were on Payroll, Whistleblower Testifies

Twitter Knew Chinese Spies Were on Payroll, Whistleblower Testifies

The former head of security at Twitter, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, testified on Tuesday that at least one of the Chinese spies from China’s top intelligence agency were on the company’s payroll.

Zatko, a whistleblower who served as Twitter’s head of security, testified against the embattled platform before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 13.

Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Zatko: “In your disclosure, you mentioned that the FBI notified Twitter that one of their employees was suspected of being a Chinese foreign asset. Were you and others at Twitter at all surprised by that?”

Zatko responded that he was notified of this information a week before the company fired him.

“The corporate security physical security team had been contacted and told that there was at least one agent of the MSS, which is one of China’s intelligence services, on the payroll inside Twitter,” he said.

In Zatko’s testimony, he highlighted Twitter’s widespread security failings and how the platform was misleading the public, lawmakers, shareholders, and even its board of directors.

Zatko testified that the company dismissed him when he raised concerns about suspected Chinese spies at the company to a Twitter executive.

“When I said, ‘I am confident that we have a foreign agent,’ [the executive’s] response was, ‘Well since we already have one, what does it matter if we have more; let’s keep growing the office,'” he recalled during the hearing.

‘Goldmine’ for foreign intelligence

The whistleblower noted how Twitter would be a “goldmine” for any foreign intelligence agency that could insert one of their intelligence assets, like Chinese spies, within the company.

“If you place somebody on Twitter … as we know has happened, it would be very difficult for Twitter to find them. They will probably be able to stay there for a long period of time, and gain significant information to provide back on either targeting people or on information as to Twitter’s decisions and discussions and … the direction of the company,” Zatko said.

Zatko, a former “white hat” hacker and Google employee, was hired by Twitter in 2020 in the aftermath of a major hack that hijacked dozens of high-profile accounts.

The whistleblower also alleges that Twitter was becoming dependent on sales to Chinese entities, despite the platform being blocked in China.

“Twitter executives knew that accepting Chinese money risked endangering users in China,” the 84-page complaint said.

“They didn’t know what people they were putting at risk. Or what information they were even giving to the government, which made me concerned that they hadn’t thought through the problem in the first place—that they were putting their users at risk,” Zatko said at the hearing.

Profits over security

He summarized the executives’ response to his concerns: “We’re already in bed. It would be problematic if we lost that revenue stream. So figure out a way to make people comfortable with it.”

Twitter’s leadership ignored Zatko’s warnings of fundamental cybersecurity problems and misled the board, shareholders, and the public to “prioritize profits over security.”

“What I discovered when I joined Twitter [in November 2020] was that this enormously influential company was over a decade behind industry security standards.”

Zatko says Twitter’s data security problems stem from two fundamental issues:

“They don’t know what data they have, where it lives, or where it came from. And so unsurprisingly, they can’t protect it. And this leads to the second problem, which is the employees then have to have too much access to too much data and too many systems,” he said.

The whistleblower then emphasized his last point by revealing that about half of Twitter employees have access to the Twitter account of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) – the committee’s ranking member.

“The company’s cybersecurity failures make it vulnerable to exploitation, causing real harm to real people,” Zatko said.

“When an influential media platform can be compromised by teenagers, thieves, and spies, and the company repeatedly creates security problems on their own, this is a big deal for all of us.”

Zatko said Twitter misled regulators about compliance with a Federal Trade Commission order in 2011, stating the platform has made “little meaningful progress on basic security, integrity and privacy systems.”


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Obama Takes to Twitter to Call for More Gun Control It Doesn-t End Well
Obama Takes to Twitter to Call for More Gun Control; It Doesn’t End Well
Former president Barack Obama received massive pushback on Twitter after he called for more gun control...
Biden to Host Largest Pride Celebration In History as Economy Teeters on the Brink of Collapse
Biden to Host Largest Pride Celebration "In History" as Economy Teeters on the Brink of Collapse
Joe Biden is to host the White House’s largest Pride celebration “in history” as Americans...
Republican Anna Paulina Luna Adam Schiff Is a CRIMINAL He Will Be Held Accountable
Republican Anna Paulina Luna: “Adam Schiff Is a CRIMINAL, He Will Be Held Accountable”
Florida Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna vowed to hold “criminal” Democrat Adam Schiff accountable...
Dan Bongino Liberals Obsessed with Talking to Kids about Sex
Dan Bongino: Liberals “Obsessed” with Talking to Kids about Sex
Conservative commentator Dan Bongino noted how liberals are totally “obsessed” with speaking...
Arnold Schwarzenegger Christians Who Claim Heaven Is Real Are Liars
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Christians Who Claim Heaven Is Real Are “F**ing Liars”
Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted Christianity and faith in God, saying there is no heaven and that “anyone...
Zelensky Admits He-s Petrified of Trump Returning to the White House
Zelensky Admits He’s Petrified of Trump Returning to the White House
President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted he is afraid of Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election...
Irish Gvt to Slaughter 200-000 Farting Cows to Fight Climate Change
Irish Gvt to Slaughter 200,000 “Farting” Cows to Fight “Climate Change”
Lawmakers in Ireland plan to slaughter “farting” 200,000 cows to tackle climate change and...
Biden Begins Rambling during Meeting with UK Prime Minister Forgets Winston Churchill-s Name
Biden Begins Rambling during Meeting with UK Prime Minister, Forgets Winston Churchill’s Name - WATCH
Joe Biden met with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the Oval Office on Thursday and immediately began...
Top Trump Donor-s Entire Family Killed in Plane Crash
Top Trump Donor's "Entire Family" Killed in Plane Crash
A prominent Trump donor’s family members were killed in a plane crash on Sunday when their private...
Former NY GOP Rep Lee Zeldin Odds Have Gone Up Trump Becomes 47th President
Former NY GOP Rep Lee Zeldin: “Odds Have Gone Up Trump Becomes 47th President”
Former New York GOP Rep Lee Zeldin has predicted former President Donald Trump will likely become the...
What are your thoughts? Click to commentx



We don’t spam! Read our Privacy Policy for more info.