Twitter-Tesla Tussle Intensifies with Whistleblower Complaint
By Margaret M. Cassidy, Esq.
Twitter and Tesla are in heated, high stakes litigation over Tesla walking away from its plans to acquire Twitter. Tesla walked away from the deal for, among other things, claiming that Twitter had more spam users and automated bots on its platform than it had represented. Twitter denied the accusations.
It seems Tesla was just given a gift in that litigation.
A Twitter executive responsible for network security and user privacy, to include ferreting out spam and automated bots, filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice. The whistleblower alleged that Twitter was not protecting users’ privacy; that it had more spam and bot accounts then it represented; and that Twitter executives obscured the privacy, account, and network security issues from the board.
Twitter denies the accusations and is claiming the whistleblower was fired for cause. Twitter’s CEO told employees that the whistleblower’s accusations were inaccurate and that it has never made material misstatements.
Fallout has started for Twitter; its shares fell on the news of the complaints. Elon Musk reported that he has subpoenaed the whistleblower as part of the suit over the collapsed acquisition. Further, in a rare bipartisan move, senators from both parties have scheduled a hearing where the whistleblower will testify.
Regardless of how this plays out for the lawsuit, Twitter’s governance, culture, and internal controls will now be scrutinized by regulators, Congress, the media, and its investors.