Twitter reached a $7 million settlement with its former top security executive, Peiter Zatko, in June, after he was fired from the company and had raised concerns about its security practices.
Lawyers for Elon Musk, who is trying to back out of a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, disclosed the settlement during a court hearing on Tuesday. During the hearing, Mr. Musk’s lawyers successfully argued that Mr. Zatko’s accusations that Twitter had misrepresented its security practices be included in the case over the deal.
“They’re paying the guy $7 million and making sure he’s quiet,” Alex Spiro, an attorney for Mr. Musk, said during the hearing.
On Wednesday, a judge ruled that Mr. Musk could discuss the security problems raised by Mr. Zatko during an October trial over the deal in Delaware Chancery Court. The trial will determine whether Mr. Musk must proceed with his bid to buy the social media company.
A spokeswoman for Twitter and a lawyer for Mr. Zatko declined to comment. Details of the settlement were earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Zatko told regulators in a whistle-blower report in July that Twitter misled them and the public about its security by misrepresenting how it fights spam and hackers. That violated a 2011 agreement that Twitter had struck with the Federal Trade Commission, which had barred the company from misleading users about its security and privacy measures, he contended.
Mr. Zatko also suggested that Twitter had lied to Mr. Musk about how it measures the number of inauthentic accounts on its platform. The complaint dovetailed with Mr. Musk’s assertions that Twitter has not been truthful about the number of bots and spam accounts on its service, which the billionaire has cited as a reason to back out of the acquisition.