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Democrats Push For Federal Investigation of Twitter

Lawmakers Express Concern Over The Platform's 'Integrity and Safety' Since Elon Musk's Takeover

Senate Democrats are pushing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Twitter, citing “serious, willful disregard for the safety and security of its users, and encourage” following billionaire Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media platform.

Seven senators signed the letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan urging an investigation into the company stating that recent decisions under Musk’s short tenure have been “alarming” and have allegedly undermined the platform’s integrity and safety.

The lawmakers are asking federal officials to probe whether any of Twitter’s actions are in breach of the company’s consent decree or in violation of any U.S. consumer protection laws.

FTC officials recently placed Twitter under closer scrutiny after three privacy and compliance executives resigned, raising concern the company would be at risk of violating regulatory orders, according to Reuters.

“We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” Douglas Farrar, the FTC’s director of public affairs, told Reuters. “No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”

Despite Twitter now being privately owned, the legislators expressed concern over Musk firing staff, how the company handles internal privacy reviews, and questions regarding personal data protection as the company develops new products and monetization strategies.

They were also particularly concerned with the company’s plan to allow users to subscribe to Twitter Blue and pay a monthly subscription fee for the coveted “blue checkmark” verification badge — roughly a third of the nearly 700-word letter was dedicated to verification.

“Since the launch of the verification feature over a decade ago, Twitter users have come to rely on the blue checkmark as an assurance that prominent users are who they claim to be — the most clear sign that an account is trustworthy,” the letter stated. “When Mr. Musk announced plans to open Twitter’s verification services to all paying users, experts warned the change would exacerbate the platform’s already rampant problems with financial scams, foreign disinformation, and public safety threats. These misguided changes come at a time when Twitter is facing coordinated campaigns of racist, misogynistic, and antisemitic harassment, attempting to exploit the change in ownership to spread hate and vitriol.”

Lawmakers are urging FTC officials to “vigorously oversee” matters regarding the consent decree and to bring enforcement actions against Twitter where appropriate.

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