Twitter Whistleblower Tells FTC that Security Violations Continue After Elon Musk’s Takeover

A former Twitter engineer turned whistleblower has told the FTC that security violations continue on the social media platform, despite Elon Musk’s takeover. According to the whistleblower, the company did not disable “GodMode,” claiming, “They removed this from one interface, but it still existed in other ways. They just changed the lock on one of the many front doors.”

Any Twitter engineer can access an internal feature known as “GodMode” and tweet from any account today, despite Musk’s takeover of the company — which was completed in late October — according to a complaint obtained by the Washington Post.

The complaint, which was filed by the law firm Whistleblower Aid, states that “After the 2020 hack in which teenagers were able to tweet as any account, Twitter publicly stated that the problems were fixed.”

“However, the existence of GodMode is one more example that Twitter’s public statements to users and investors were false and/or misleading,” the complaint adds. “Our client has a reasonable belief that the evidence in this disclosure demonstrates legal violations by Twitter.”

The whistleblower, who spoke with Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, said Twitter employees have recently changed the name “GodMode” to “privileged mode,” and that the purpose of the feature is to allow staff to tweet on behalf of advertisers unable to do it themselves.

In response to an FTC complaint, Twitter had promised to set up a “comprehensive information security program that is reasonably designed to protect the security, privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of nonpublic consumer information.”

But last year, Peiter Zatko, former Twitter security head, told Congress that no such plan was in place, so the issue was reopened. His complaint also noted that Twitter directly employed multiple agents of other governments.

After reopening the complaint, it was revealed that not only could employees tweet as anyone, they could also restore an account’s deleted tweets — something regular Twitter users are unable to do themselves.

The new whistleblower says the GodMode code is still available on the company laptops belonging to all Twitter engineers. Moreover, “Twitter does not have the capability to log which, if any, engineers use or abuse GodMode,” the complaint says.

“They put in writing to the public and regulators that they had closed all the loopholes. That’s a lie,” the whistleblower insisted. “They removed this from one interface, but it still existed in other ways. They just changed the lock on one of the many front doors.”