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Ex-workmates of the Twitter whistleblower offered money for dirt

Reports say that former coworkers of Peiter 'Mudge' Zatko, who blew the whistle on Twitter for allegedly lax enforcement of data privacy rules, have been offered money in exchange for damaging information about him. Zatko used to be in charge of Twitter's cybersecurity, and he was the one who blew the whistle.

The New Yorker reported on Tuesday that tech workers at places where Zatko used to work, like Stripe, Google, and the Pentagon, have been getting a lot of emails and LinkedIn messages from so-called research-and-advisory companies looking for information that could affect Tesla CEO Elon Musk's plans to buy Twitter.

Research and advisory firms gather information for their clients, who then use it to plan their investment strategies.

A message sent to Stripe worker Marty Wasserman on August 23 said, "I'm working on a project about leadership in tech, and my client wants to talk to an experienced professional about a certain person you may have worked with."

Dan Foster, who also works for Stripe, told his coworkers, "I'm getting a lot of requests for paid interviews."

The two men were asked to take part in a "45-minute-to-1-hour-long paid phone consultation."

After Zatko went public with his claims against Twitter last month, the messages were sent.

Wasserman wrote to his Stripe coworkers on the internal Slack channel, "Pretty sure this is about Mudge."

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

“Hard pass.”

The New Yorker says that an AlphaSights employee asked Wasserman for information about Zatko's "personality, leadership, style, validity, and history."

"We pay well because we know this is a hard and confusing request at first," a person with ties to Wasserman was said to have written.

Another Stripe employee, Jaclyn Schoof, said she got the same offer from London-based information services company AlphaSights.

"They didn't care how much it would cost them, they said... "That seems really strange," she wrote to her coworkers.

Wasserman told The New Yorker that he was worried that "multiple different sources, multiple different people, and multiple different companies were all basically trying to dig up dirt on Mudge, all at what seemed to be the same 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 money in exchange for information about us,” Zatko told The New 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 should be beneath whoever is behind them.” 

The New Yorker said that no Stripe employee who was asked to take money did so because they "wanted to defend his credibility."

Musk has used Zatko's accusations against Twitter as a legal reason to back out of his $44 billion promise to buy the social media company and make it private.

Tuesday, Twitter shareholders agreed to the buyout.

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against Musk in Delaware to make him stick to the deal. The trial is set to start the first of next month.

On Twitter, Musk wondered which companies were seeking dirt on Zatko.

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

Zatko told Congress on Tuesday that Twitter had a Chinese agent working undercover and that the site was a threat to national security.

He said that Twitter didn't know that the alleged Chinese spy was working for them until the FBI told them.

In a statement to The Post, a Twitter representative said, "Today's hearing only proves that Mr. Zatko's claims are full of mistakes and false information."


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