As lawyers representing Elon Musk and Twitter argue over whether a whistleblower’s claims can be added to the former’s lawsuit, the company says one of the reasons Musk pulled out of the acquisition was concerns about the start of World War 3.
Last week saw Twitter’s former head of security, Peiter Zatko, who goes by the nickname “Mudge,” allege that his former employer lied about its security protocols and fake accounts. Unsurprisingly, Musk’s legal team moved quickly to subpoena Zatko to testify in the upcoming trial in which the billionaire will try to escape the deal without paying a $1 billion termination fee.
Musk’s lawyer is now asking the judge for the trial to be delayed for several weeks so Zatko’s claims can be examined. “Doesn’t justice demand a few weeks to look into this?” said Alex Spiro at a Delaware hearing.
In what marks the company’s first public response to Zatko’s allegations, Twitter called them a “false narrative,” adding that the former worker has a “huge ax to grind” against the firm and that he was not in charge of spam during his time at Twitter.
Zatko’s lawyers say he never chose now to go public with his accusations to benefit Musk, though Twitter disagrees. Company lawyers say that, much like the spam account argument, Musk is jumping on the allegations as a way to escape a deal he agreed to without first doing due diligence.
Twitter lawyers also pointed to a text message Musk sent to his banker at Morgan Stanley on May 3 that read: “Let’s slow down just a few days […] it won’t make sense to buy Twitter if we’re headed into World War 3.”
“This is why Mr. Musk didn’t want to buy Twitter, this stuff about the bots, mDAU [monetizable daily active users] and Zatko is all pretext,” said William Savitt, representing Twitter. He said that if the judge does allow Zatko’s testimony to be added, the five-day trial should still go ahead on the scheduled October 17 date.
Zatko claimed that Twitter violated its 2011 settlement with the FTC by not maintaining a comprehensive security plan. He also said senior executives engaged in deceitful and/or misleading communications affecting board members, users, and shareholders, and that CEO Parag Agrawal asked him to provide false and misleading documents.
Twitter wants to force Musk into purchasing the company at the previously agreed price of $54.20 per share. Its share price is currently $38.65.