If you have watched the critically acclaimed TV show The Americans, you would see the extent at which people go to gain access to critical information. It is a valued asset in the spy community, and nations have agents in key spots across the globe just for information gathering purposes. While tech is primarily the main channel for obtaining information, legal or otherwise, it has also been established that person to person relationships are some of the best ways to find out about a situation that user data cannot simply give you. This is further echoed in Homeland, another TV show that I really love.
That aside, Twitter has been caught in a crossfire after two of its former employees were charged with working for the Saudi Kingdom. The operatives appeared to have infiltrated the social media giant (thus the reference to the above shows), and are said to have falsified documents provided to the FBI to cover their spying tracks while working for social media app.
According to the Washington Post, one of the former workers is an American national. He left Twitter sometime in 2015 but was arrested this week. The other culprit is a Saudi citizen who has since left the U.S. upon suspecting the FBI was onto him. There is another individual who is said to have been involved in the matter and acted as liaison between the top brass at Riyadh and the two moles planted at Twitter.
While working for Twitter, the employees passed Twitter user data of people that criticized the Saudi Royal Family. The information moved to Riyadh included emails, IP addressed associated with the accounts, the devices and browsers used, as well as additional tracking information.
Twitter placed one of the employees on forced leave, but he resigned from the organization at a later date and crossed the Atlantic to Saudi Arabia.
Their stint at Twitter is said to have been lucrative because the FBI says one of them was paid a sum totaling to $300K and received prized gifts.