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Democratic Senators send FTC letter urging an investigation of Twitter

A group of lawmakers urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to probe Twitter for any potential consent decree or consumer protection law violations in a Thursday letter.

The letter, addressed to FTC Chair Lina Khan and signed by seven Democratic senators, accused Twitter of “serious, willful disregard for the safety and security of its users” and alleged CEO Elon Musk has “taken alarming steps that have undermined the integrity and safety of the platform” since taking it over. The senators also raised concerns related to cybersecurity, fraud and scams.

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Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Dianne Fienstein of California, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Robert Menendez of New Jersey signed the letter regarding Twitter.

Musk completed his $44 billion purchase of Twitter in late October and has since made major changes at the social media company. Some of his actions include laying off 50% of its workforce and launching a verification badge users can purchase for $8 per month.

Some executives, including Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran and Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner, have also left the company since his takeover. Those departures, the senators wrote in the letter, raised concerns about “whether personal data is adequately protected from misuse or breach.”

In the letter, the senators criticized Twitter Blue, the platform’s verification subscription service, claiming Twitter “took no action to prevent consumers from being harmed until this rampant impersonation became a public relations crisis.”

Twitter logo on a phone

The verification subscription launched earlier in November, with accounts impersonating public figures and companies subsequently appearing on Twitter. Musk rolled back the feature, saying Wednesday that it would relaunch in late November. He also announced policies regarding “parody impersonations.”

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The senators said they were “concerned” Musk and other Twitter executives’ actions “could already represent a violation of the FTC’s consent decree” with the company. 

Twitter settled with the FTC and Department of Justice in May over allegations the social media company told users it would collect phone numbers, email addresses and other data for account security and did not disclose it would also use the data for companies’ targeted ads. It was put under a two-decade consent decree that required a comprehensive information security program, mandatory audits, reporting and other measures, in addition to paying a $150 million fine.

Twitter logo

“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 senators wrote in their letter Thursday.

FOX Business reached out to Twitter for comment on the letter. A spokesperson for the FTC confirmed the agency’s receipt of the lawmakers’ letter but declined to comment.

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Earlier in November, the FTC said it was “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.”

“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” the FTC’s statement at the time said. “Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”

Julia Musto and Breck Dumas contributed to this report.

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