AP

Senators to FTC: Probe Twitter security, take needed action

Nov 17, 2022, 12:01 AM | Updated: 3:28 pm

FILE - A Twitter logo hangs outside the company's San Francisco offices on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. R...

FILE - A Twitter logo hangs outside the company's San Francisco offices on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. Reacting to the tumult and mass layoffs at Twitter under its new owner Elon Musk, a group of Democratic senators on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, asked federal regulators to investigate any possible violations by the platform of consumer-protection laws or of its data-security commitments. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reacting to the tumult and mass layoffs at Twitter under its new owner Elon Musk, a group of Democratic senators on Thursday asked federal regulators to investigate any possible violations by the platform of consumer-protection laws or of its data-security commitments.

The senators also asked Lina Khan, head of the Federal Trade Commission, to take enforcement action if needed against Twitter and company executives for “any breaches or business practices that are unfair or deceptive.”

The FTC said last week it is “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.”

A key focus is the 2011 consent agreement that Twitter signed with the agency, requiring the San Francisco company to address serious data-security lapses. Twitter paid a $150 million penalty in May, several months before Musk’s takeover, for violating the consent order. An updated version established new procedures requiring the company to implement an enhanced privacy-protection program as well as beefing up information security.

Developments on the ground at Twitter have been chaotic, and experts and Twitter employees are warning of serious security risks flowing from the drastically reduced staff and deepening disorder.

In the latest turn, employees faced a 5 p.m. Eastern deadline Thursday to reply to a Musk email asking them to click “Yes” on a link if they want to be part of the “new Twitter.” Those not replying by that time were to receive three months’ severance, according to his email.

Musk, who completed the $44 billion takeover of the company in late October, fired much of its full-time workforce by email early this month and is expected to eliminate an untold number of contract jobs for those responsible for fighting misinformation and other harmful content.

A number of engineers said on Twitter they were fired after saying something critical of Musk, either publicly on Twitter or on an internal messaging board for Twitter employees.

Musk is fundamentally overhauling the offerings of the influential social platform, and it’s not known whether he is telling the FTC about it, as required under the 2011 agreement.

In recent weeks Musk “has taken alarming steps that have undermined the integrity and safety of the platform, and announced new features despite clear warnings those changes would be abused for fraud, scams and dangerous impersonation,” the seven Democratic senators, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, said in a letter to Khan.

“Users are already facing the serious repercussions of this growth-at-all-costs strategy,” they wrote, noting recent incidences of fake accounts impersonating President Joe Biden, lawmakers, athletes, companies and others.

“We are concerned that the actions taken by Mr. Musk and others in Twitter management could already represent a violation of the FTC’s consent decree, which prohibits misrepresentation and requires that Twitter maintain a comprehensive information-security program,” the letter says.

Commenting last week on the developments, the FTC said “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.”

The agency would not say whether it is investigating Twitter for potential violations. If it were, it is empowered to demand documents and depose employees.

FTC officials declined to comment on the senators’ request Thursday.

After the FTC’s warning came to light last week, Musk said “Twitter will do whatever it takes to adhere to both the letter and spirit of the FTC consent decree.”

Also signing the letter to FTC Chair Khan were Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: An Alaska Airlines passenger jet approaches to land at the Los Angeles International Airport...

Associated Press

Man accused of stabbing another passenger on a flight from Seattle to Las Vegas charged

A man who witnesses say stabbed another passenger on an airline flight in January told authorities he intended to kill the victim.

15 hours ago

Image: Dr. Candice Matthews, left, listens as Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds, right, with Darryl Geo...

Associated Press

Judge: Texas school legally punished Black student over hairstyle

A Black high school student's punishment by his Texas district for refusing to change his hairstyle doesn't violate state law, a judge said.

15 hours ago

The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exc...

Associated Press

Boeing ousts head of 737 jetliner program weeks after panel blowout on flight

Boeing said the head of its 737 program is leaving the company in an executive shake-up weeks after a door panel blew out on a flight over Oregon.

2 days ago

Image: The Alabama State Capitol is seen on May 15, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama....

Associated Press

Alabama Supreme Court rules frozen embryos are ‘children’ under state law

Critics say the Alabama embryo ruling may have sweeping implications for fertility treatments.

3 days ago

Image: People take cover during a shooting at Union Station during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bow...

Associated Press

Two men charged with murder at Kansas City Chiefs parade

Minutes after Kansas City Chiefs players spoke at a victory celebration Wednesday, multiple people near the parade route were carried away on stretchers.

3 days ago

Image: A sign is on display above an ATM at a Capital One Café in Miami on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. ...

Associated Press

Capital One to buy Discover for $35B in deal combining major US credit card companies

The deal would bring together two of the nation's credit card companies as well as potentially shake up the payments industry.

3 days ago

Senators to FTC: Probe Twitter security, take needed action