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Democratic senators ask FTC to investigate Elon Musk over his handling of Twitter

The lawmakers cited the botched rollout of paid verification, and the recent departures of top privacy execs.
Elon Musk along with the Twitter logo is seen in this illustration photo in Warsaw, Poland on 12 November, 2022. The option to sign up for Twitters new verification service for $7.99 has disappeared from the iOS app after users were abusing it to impersonate brands and famous people. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Karissa Bell
Karissa Bell|@karissabe|November 17, 2022 4:19 PM

A group of Democratic senators have asked the FTC to investigate Elon Musk over his handling of users’ privacy and security in the wake of his takeover of Twitter. In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, the senators cite Musk’s botched rollout of Twitter Blue’s paid verifications, as well as the departures of Twitter’s top privacy and security executives.

The letter, signed by seven senators, including Elizabeth Warren, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal, follows a widely-publicized warning from a lawyer at Twitter that Musk could be exposing the company to billions of dollars in fines from the FTC.

“In recent weeks, Twitter’s new Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, has taken alarming steps that have undermined the safety and integrity of the platform,” the senators write, noting that his actions “could already represent a violation of the FTC’s consent decree.” Under the terms of a 2011 agreement with the FTC, Twitter is required to review new features for potential privacy issues and regularly send reports to the FTC. The recent departures of top pirivacy and security executives came just ahead of a deadline to send one of those reports, according to The New York Times.

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In their letter, the senators write that the FCC should investigate Musk and other executives’ actions. “We urge the Commission to vigorously oversee its consent decree with Twitter and to bring enforcement actions against any breached or business practices that are unfair or deceptive, including bringing civil penalties and imposing liability on individual Twitter executives where appropriate,” they write.

It’s unclear if the FTC plans to launch such an investigation, but an FTC spokesperson said last week that the agency was “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” according to CNBC.

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Democratic senators ask FTC to investigate Elon Musk over his handling of Twitter