HomeFinanceDemocratic senators tell US regulator that Elon Musk has ‘undermined’ Twitter

Democratic senators tell US regulator that Elon Musk has ‘undermined’ Twitter

A group of Democratic US senators have written to the Federal Trade Commission urging the regulator to investigate Elon Musk’s Twitter over concerns its new chief executive has “undermined the integrity and safety of the platform”.

In a letter addressed to the FTC chair Lina Khan, the seven senators warned that the platform was displaying “serious, wilful disregard for the safety and security of its users” since Musk took the helm several weeks ago.

The Democratic lawmakers called for the consumer protection regulator to “vigorously oversee” its 2011 consent decree with Twitter, in which the social media platform pledged to better protect user data, and to bring enforcement actions where necessary against the company “or individual Twitter executives”. 

The letter also cited Musk’s chaotic rollout of the flagship premium subscription service Twitter Blue, and safety leaders and reports that the company has now scaled back internal privacy reviews as part of cost-cutting efforts.

It comes after a recent exodus of safety and cyber security leaders from the company, including Yoel Roth, head of trust and safety. On Thursday, Ella Irwin, a vice-president of its health products and services team, was appointed as Roth’s replacement, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, a new wave of employees announced they were quitting late on Thursday, after Musk ordered staff to formally register their commitment to an “extremely hardcore” working culture of long hours by the end of the day or receive three months of severance.

One staffer said that “tens” of employees had announced their departures on the company’s internal Slack channels. Many were sharing emojis of a person saluting, or a blue heart, in a sign of camaraderie, another person said.

Twitter has attracted heightened scrutiny from regulators globally since Musk clinched his takeover. European regulators and the Irish Data Protection Commission, the lead European privacy watchdog, have been scrutinising the company over similar concerns, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

The FTC declined to comment but last week said that it was “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern”.

It is the latest challenge facing Twitter amid Musk’s tumultuous first weeks as its owner. Musk laid off half of Twitter’s 7,500-strong workforce within days of taking the reins.

The cuts and rapid changes have raised fears of a proliferation of misinformation and hate speech on the platform, while Musk has paused sign-ups to the Twitter Blue programme after its “blue tick” feature was abused by impersonators, targeting politicians and brands such as Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin.

“Twitter knew in advance that there was [a] high likelihood the Twitter Blue product could be used for fraud, and still it took no action to prevent consumers from being harmed until this rampant impersonation became a public relations crisis,” the letter said. Other signatories included Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Edward Markey and Cory Booker.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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