A flock of executives in charge of security and privacy resigned from Twitter this week, shortly after the company released a revamped paid feature for user verification that’s been widely exploited to impersonate high-profile individuals.
Lea Kissner resigned as Twitter’s CISO and said, in a Thursday tweet, it was a “hard decision to leave." The company’s Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran and Chief Compliance Officer Marianne Fogarty also quit, according to The Washington Post.
The trio of C-suite departures come less than a week after half of the company’s employees, roughly 3,700 people, were laid off and two weeks after Elon Musk took control of the company.
Musk pressed employees to release the company’s pay-for-verification product immediately after the midterm elections, and the abuse began soon after.
Timelines are flooded with tweets from individuals or bots that paid the $8 monthly fee for verification and are now impersonating high-profile politicians, athletes and others with bombastic and sometimes hate-filled tweets.
The hasty rollout of the subscription-based product, Twitter Blue, and wave of abuse that immediately followed also caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission.
The regulatory agency in May fined Twitter $150 million and issued its latest consent decree against the company for violating a previous order related to Twitter’s collection and commercial exploitation of users’ personal information.
“We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” an FTC spokesperson said in a statement shared with Cybersecurity Dive.
“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them,” the spokesperson said.
Twitter is required, per the May FTC consent order, to conduct privacy reviews before making changes to the platform. The Twitter Blue verification product was developed and released in 10 days, leaving employees little time to conduct thorough privacy or security checks.
Musk, in a companywide email to staff that was obtained by CNBC, described the economic outlook for Twitter as “dire,” and all but pinned the company’s survival on the pay-for-verification scheme.
“Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn. We need roughly half of our revenue to be subscription,” Musk said in the email.