Chinese Spy Busted at Twitter

The CEO of Twitter is a 38-year-old man named Parag Agrawal. He was born in Ajmer, a city in India’s Rajasthan province, located about three hours west of Jaipur.

Agrawal is a smart guy with extensive education and expertise in data and tech. He moved to the United States in 2005 to attend Stanford and later immigrated.

However, since taking over Twitter in the fall of 2021, Agrawal rubbed many people the wrong way. He’s also now been busted for housing a Chinese spy and a very muted response from the company as a whole.

Unmasking a Chinese Spy

The Senate Judiciary Committee delivered a letter to Agrawal recently, asking about how Twitter manages its data protection and company security policy.

In particular, they are concerned about the discovery of espionage at Twitter, including a reported spy from India and another from China.

Former Twitter worker Peiter Zatko is now providing testimony about what’s going on at Twitter, saying while he worked there, he saw a very lax attitude to security, especially matters that could affect national security.

Under questioning from the committee, Zatko talked about some very disturbing things he witnessed at Twitter. That’s why he became a whistleblower, after all.

If everything was fine, he’d probably still be cashing checks from Agrawal, instead of getting fired for asking questions.

As Zatko said, when he found out there was a Chinese spy at the company, he was very concerned. He knew Twitter’s security policies weren’t very strong; so, he wasn’t that surprised, but he was worried.

He took steps to try to get other people at Twitter to pay closer attention to what the spy was doing and why, but there was no real interest.

In fact, according to Zatko nobody cared at all. Instead, management was just angry about him for causing a stir and fired him for that reason.

Vulnerable to Spies and Saboteurs

As Zatko said under committee testimony, Twitter employees didn’t much care a Chinese spy had been found in their company; they also had no “fundamental ability” to actually stop them.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah asked Zatko why Twitter didn’t even have a way to properly log and track what their workers did internally. Zatko’s said the answer was simple: the company was focused on making money not keeping networks safe.

Speaking to a high-up executive at Twitter, Zatko explained he warned this person about the foreign spy at Twitter and his knowledge of what they might be doing.

The boss didn’t really care and replied if they already had infiltrators, it probably wouldn’t matter if they had one or two more; their focus should be on boosting revenue and expanding operations.

In other words, they didn’t care.

China has many reasons it might want inroads to Twitter, including being able to more closely track those who criticize China and to find anonymous posters who may be causing them problems or criticism.

The potential for China to use Twitter for kompromat or blackmail also remains significant, obviously.

The Bottom Line

Maybe Twitter executives were too busy figuring out how to ban conservatives to care that spies from a ruthless communist regime were doing God knows what with data and accounts of US citizens.

This article appeared in StatesmanPost and has been published here with permission.