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Department of Justice recently probed Twitter, ex-workers say

The former employees — three executives fired by Elon Musk — say they've spent $1 million of their own money fending off legal claims against the social media platform.

The former employees — three executives fired by Elon Musk — say they've spent $1 million of their own money fending off legal claims against the social media platform.

A sign attached to Twitter's global headquarters is viewed from a sidewalk on Market Street in San Francisco, California. June 18, 2014. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk/Creative Commons)
A sign attached to Twitter’s global headquarters is viewed from a sidewalk on Market Street in San Francisco, California. June 18, 2014. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk/Creative Commons)

Former employees of social media platform Twitter have filed a lawsuit alleging they spent more than $1 million of their own money to ward off lawsuits and investigations brought by a number of people and organizations.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Monday, claimed one of the groups probing Twitter from a legal standpoint was the U.S. Department of Justice. The nature of the investigation by federal officials wasn’t clear, but it may have been connected to shares of the company once owned by technology mogul Elon Musk, which triggered its own investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk acquired Twitter in a private deal valued at $44 billion last October.

The Justice Department sometimes assists various government agencies with their probes against private companies. Such was the case in 2022 when the Justice Department helped the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) during an investigation into Twitter’s user privacy policies. The investigation ultimately led to a $150 million fine against the company for misusing customer data.

On Monday, three former Twitter executives — once-CEO Parag Agrawal, former chief legal counsel Vijaya Gadde and prior chief financial officer Ned Segal — filed a federal lawsuit in Delaware court, arguing they dug into their own pockets to find $1 million to help Twitter fight its various legal cases. Those cases include legal matters brought by Twitter shareholders, some of which have since settled.

The three former executives — all of whom were fired by Musk shortly after his takeover of Twitter — say the company never reimbursed them for the expenses associated with the various legal matters.

The case adds to a growing list of legal matters and court cases involving Twitter since Musk’s purchase of the company last year. Twitter has faced numerous lawsuits from former employees and contractors who claim the company violated various state and federal laws over their dismissals, including a lack of advanced notice and failure to pay certain benefits. Some vendors also accuse Twitter of falling behind on payments they are contractually owed.

Twitter has mounted a few legal challenges of its own, including one against Microsoft’s GitHub, where someone leaked sensitive and proprietary source code connected to the platform earlier this year.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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