When this story breaks wide, you can be sure that Jack Dorsey will be brought before Congress to discuss this breach. To be honest, there is no way to determine if this can be avoided. People, working for the government, were charged with spying even with government clearance. Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying for the Saudi Arabian government, according to The Washington Post.
The Justice Department announced the charges on Wednesday after one of the former employees was reportedly arrested. That suspect, Ahmad Abouammo, was charged with spying on three Twitter accounts for the government, according to the Post.
Another former employee was charged with accessing data on more than 6,000 Twitter accounts, including one tied to a confidant of murdered journalist and critic of the Saudi government, Jamal Khashoggi. That should raise some red flags. A third man, who prosecutors said acted as an intermediary between the employees and the Saudi government, was also charged. Those two suspects are still at large. Even though those Twitter employees have been charged, we can assume that there may be more to come.
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said the company “limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees.”
“We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable,” the spokesperson said. “We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work. We’re committed to protecting those who use our service to advocate for equality, individual freedoms, and human rights.”
According to the Post, prosecutors linked the three men to a charity operated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been tied by US officials to Khashoggi’s killing and has worked to undermine dissidents in the country. Prosecutors reportedly found that the former employees had been seeking data on prominent critics of the government.
There will undoubtedly be an investigation into the situation, which will bring social media companies into the spotlight of Congress. However, it will definitely be hard for companies, even government agencies, to weed out spying. It has been a problem for the United States since World War II. These Twitter employees will bring a backlash compounded with the close relationship the Trump Administration has with Saudi Arabia and MBS. This won’t be the last we hear of this.