Democratic Lawmakers Call for Investigation of Elon Musk’s Twitter
WASHINGTON — Seven Democratic senators called for the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to investigate whether Twitter had violated a privacy agreement with the agency since Elon Musk took over the company.
In a letter to Lina Khan, the chair of the F.T.C., the lawmakers said they were worried that Mr. Musk’s “reported changes to internal reviews and data security practices further put consumers at risk” and that Twitter had broken the terms of a 2011 legal settlement with the regulator.
The senators who signed the letter included Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
A spokesman for the F.T.C. declined to comment. The agency previously said it was “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.” Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Musk, who completed a $44 billion buyout of Twitter last month, has upended the social media company. He has slashed 50 percent of the company’s work force, instituted changes to the site’s verification program and sought to quell fears among advertisers about the direction of the service. On Wednesday, he told remaining employees in an email that they had a deadline of 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday to decide whether they wanted to stay or leave the company.
Twitter had agreed to a settlement with the F.T.C. in 2011 over privacy violations, which requires the company to submit regular reports about its privacy practices and open its doors to audits. But last week, several of its security executives resigned a day before a deadline for Twitter to submit a report to the F.T.C.
In internal messages later that day, an employee wrote about the resignations and suggested that internal privacy reviews of Twitter’s products under Mr. Musk were not proceeding as they should under the F.T.C. settlement. Mr. Musk later told staff that the company would comply with the F.T.C. settlement.
In their letter to the F.T.C., the lawmakers raised concerns about the executives’ departures, as well as Mr. Musk’s changes to the verification program for Twitter accounts, which they said had been a boon to scammers on the website.
“We urge the commission to vigorously oversee its consent decree with Twitter and to bring enforcement actions against any breaches or business practices that are unfair or deceptive, including bringing civil penalties and imposing liability on individual Twitter executives where appropriate,” the lawmakers said.