Twitter reached a $7 million settlement with its former top security executive, Peiter Zatko, in June after he was fired from the company and raised concerns about security practices.
Attorneys for Elon Musk, who is seeking to pull out of a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, announced the settlement during a court hearing on Tuesday. At the hearing, Mr. Musk’s attorneys successfully argued that Mr. Zatko’s allegations that Twitter had misrepresented its security practices would be included in the deal over the deal.
“They pay the man $7 million and make sure he is quiet,” said Alex Spiro, a lawyer for Mr. Musk, during the hearing.
On Wednesday, a judge ruled that Mr. Musk could discuss the security concerns raised by Mr. Zatko during an October trial over the deal in the Delaware Chancery Court. The process will determine whether Mr. Musk should go ahead with his offer to buy the social media company.
A Twitter spokeswoman and a lawyer for Zatko declined to comment. Details of the settlement were earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Mr Zatko told regulators in a whistleblower report in July that Twitter has misled them and the public about its security by misrepresenting how it fights spam and hackers. That violated a 2011 agreement Twitter signed with the Federal Trade Commission, which banned the company from misleading users about its security and privacy measures, he claimed.
Zatko also suggested that Twitter had lied to Musk about how it measures the number of inauthentic accounts on its platform. The complaint echoed Mr Musk’s claims that Twitter has not been honest about the number of bots and spam accounts on its service, which the billionaire has cited as a reason to pull out of the acquisition.