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Twitter whistleblower’s ex-colleagues offered money for dirt: report

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Former colleagues of Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Twitter’s former cybersecurity chief who blew the whistle on the social media company for alleged lax enforcement of information privacy rules, say they’ve been offered payment in exchange for damaging details about him, in accordance with published reports.

Tech employees at Zatko’s former stops including Stripe, Google and the Pentagon said their email inboxes and LinkedIn accounts have been inundated with messages from so-called research-and-advisory corporations searching for to get information that might impact a possible acquisition of Twitter by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, The Recent Yorker reported Tuesday.

Research-and-advisory firms gather information for clients who then use the info to plan strategy regarding potential investments.

“I’m currently working on a project regarding leadership in tech, and my client is hoping to talk to an experienced skilled about a selected individual you’ll have worked with,” read a message sent to Marty Wasserman, a Stripe worker, on Aug. 23.

One other Stripe employee, Dan Foster, told colleagues: “I’m getting inundated with paid interview requests.”

The 2 men were invited to a “45-60 minute compensated phone consultation.”

The messages were sent after Zatko went public together with his claims against Twitter last month.

“Preeeettyy sure that is regarding Mudge,” Wasserman wrote to Stripe colleagues on the inner Slack channel.

Zatko has alleged that Twitter poses a threat to national security on account of its lax adherance to data and privacy rules.Getty Images

“Hard pass.”

In response to The Recent Yorker, Wasserman was asked by an associate at AlphaSights about information that might make clear Zatko’s “personality, leadership, style, validity, and history.”

“We compensate well because we all know this can be a difficult and confusing ask at first,” the associated reportedly wrote to Wasserman.

Jaclyn Schoof, one other Stripe worker, reported receiving the identical offer from AlphaSights, an information services company headquartered in London.

“They said they didn’t care how much it will cost them… seems really weird,” she wrote to colleagues.

Wasserman told The Recent Yorker he was concerned “that multiple different sources, multiple different people, multiple different corporations, were all principally attempting to dig up dirt on Mudge, all seemingly at the identical time.”

“My family and I are disturbed by what appears to be a campaign to approach our friends and former colleagues under apparently false pretenses with offers of cash in exchange for details about us,” Zatko told The Recent Yorker.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has cited Zatko's claims as a rationale for terminating the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.Tesla CEO Elon Musk has cited Zatko’s claims as a rationale for terminating the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.NTB/AFP via Getty Images

“These tactics must be beneath whoever is behind them.” 

The Recent Yorker reported that not one of the Stripe staff who were approached agreed to simply accept payment because they “wished to defend his credibility.”

Musk has cited Zatko’s accusations against Twitter as a legal rationale to back out of his $44 billion commitment to purchase the social media company and take it private.

Twitter shareholders on Tuesday approved the buyout.

Twitter has sued Musk in Delaware in a bid to implement the agreement. The trial is scheduled to start next month.

This says all of it:
“Not one of the members of the Stripe chat who spoke with me said that they accepted payment or agreed to talk to the firms about Zatko, and all said they wished to defend his credibility.”

— Naughtius Maximus (@elonmusk) September 13, 2022

On Twitter, Musk wondered which corporations were searching for dirt on Zatko.

“Anyone know who the key clients are? Let’s out them on Twitter rn haha,” Musk tweeted.

In testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Zatko said Twitter employed an undercover Chinese agent and that the location constituted a national security threat.

He said that Twitter didn’t know the alleged Chinese agent was on its payroll until the corporate was contacted by the FBI.

A Twitter spokesperson said in a press release to The Post: “Today’s hearing only confirms that Mr. Zatko’s allegations are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies.”

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