Musk's Twitter mayhem brings sharp warning from the FTC

Musk’s Twitter mayhem brings sharp warning from the FTC

Many have been cut, but with half of its workforce laid off, the company is struggling to contain them.

Amid the changes, Twitter senior cybersecurity officer resigned in the last day and Twitter’s privacy officer and compliance officer resigned in the last 24 hours, according to an internal Slack message from an attorney with the company’s privacy team . The soft message, obtained by POLITICO and first reported by The Verge, says all three company officials resigned yesterday.

The turmoil prompted a stern warning from federal regulators on Thursday. A spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission said, “We are following recent developments on Twitter with deep concern,” adding that “[n]o The CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. The FTC’s statement is an unusual move from a regulator that rarely releases statements ahead of enforcement actions.

Twitter is currently the subject of two consent decrees from the FTC regarding past security and privacy breaches. She was fined $150 million in May for violating her first consent decree of 2011, and the company remains under scrutiny for any future violations. “Our revised consent order gives us new tools to enforce compliance, and we’re ready to use them,” the FTC spokesperson said Thursday.

The “blue” deployment brings counterfeits

As regulators watched, the platform itself remained besieged by fake accounts.

‘Joe Biden’ account tweeted obscene jokes before being deleted; a fake Rudy Giulani offered to fight Alan Dershowitz. The wave of fake accounts has also hit the world of sports, where a “verified” account posing as LeBron James has requested a trade.

Although these have been taken down, a separate set of accounts for political figures with verified blue ticks have emerged with the word “parody” in their handle, as a way to escape suspension. The musk had tweeted November 6 that accounts that do not state that they are parodies will be suspended. A fake account for the New York gubernatorial candidate »Lee Zeldin (parody)for example, appears to have met Musk’s standards and stayed up Thursday morning.

Twitter’s changes are prompted by an early decision by Musk to open the company’s “verified” status to any user willing to pay for an $8 monthly subscription service, known as Twitter Blue. The subscription is an effort to increase returns on the $44 billion he spent to purchase the platform; Musk also said the new service would help weed out spam and fake accounts.

So far, it seems to be doing the opposite: Paid accounts automatically include a “blue check” verification badge, so users spend the money, then create accounts to impersonate public figures, like the one posing as Tony Blair. tweet about the war in iraq.

Many of them were quickly suspended, but not before the posts and screenshots went viral. Musk said accounts that engage in “impersonation, deception or deception” will be actively suspended.

The FTC looms large

Thursday’s internal warning from a Twitter lawyer raised serious concerns about how quickly Musk is forcing the company’s engineers to make changes — and how that could lead the company directly to a future breach of the FTC.

“Over the past two weeks, Elon has shown that he only cares about recouping the losses he incurs due to his inability to evade his binding obligation to buy Twitter,” Slack’s post reads.

Rolling out the verification feature would typically be much slower to ensure compliance with privacy laws and other regulations, but Musk’s breakneck pace means the process is now an engineer’s responsibility, according to the letter. .

“I anticipate that you will all come under pressure from management to make changes that will likely lead to major incidents,” the letter reads.

Adding to these issues, Twitter lawyers also fear Musk is set to take on the FTC, risking billions of dollars in fines for the company.

“I heard Alex Spiro (current Head of Legal) say that Elon is willing to take a lot of risk with this company and its users because ‘Elon puts rockets in space, he doesn’t have not afraid of the FTC’,” the attorney’s letter said.

The FTC’s enforcement capabilities are significantly enhanced due to Twitter’s previous consent decrees.

Part of the audits required under Twitter’s deal means the company must have an assessor evaluating its privacy and security programs — who the FTC can talk to at any time to determine if there are any signals. alarms that it should investigate. The company also has subpoena capabilities that can compel Twitter employees to speak out under penalty of perjury, which is admissible in court.

These investigations can take up to a year, and past violations and damages are often factored into penalties.

A legacy solution

Twitter Blue’s expanded subscription service is meant to replace the old blue ticks that government officials, journalists and other notables have earned since 2009. Musk said he doesn’t like the current two-way system. classes of those with and without blue ticks. Also Thursday, Musk tweeted that he plans to remove the old blue checkmarks “in the coming months”.

“It levels the playing field here. It will obviously be less special to have a checkmark, but I think that’s a good thing,” Musk said during a Twitter Spaces event with advertisers yesterday. “I don’t like the lords and peasants situation where some people have blue ticks and some don’t.”

However, a major advertising agency had recommended that its clients – who spend more than $40 billion globally – suspend ads on Twitter due to trust and safety issues for their brands under Musk’s leadership.

Given that 90% of Twitter’s revenue is generated by ads, Musk appears to be pushing the launch quickly to recoup lost advertising dollars, as advertisers leave the platform due to concerns over the recent proliferation of hate speech and conspiracy theories about Paul Pelosi from Musk himself.

Everyone – including advertisers – will have to pay for the new blue tick, the billionaire said.

While Thursday’s mayhem was largely the product of Musk’s abrupt changes to the platform, it is also reminiscent of Twitter’s early days, before disinformation policing became a public priority and companies put put in place stricter safeguards around fake accounts.

The name of Donald Trump’s own account, @realdonaldtrump, evokes a time on Twitter when celebrity impersonations were common, and fake corporate accounts might even have their own fans.

However, given the rise of deliberate misinformation, election bashing and Russian bots, the stakes around social media have since risen, and experts fear that reopening the doors of Twitter as a paid freebie could have civic repercussions far beyond. The Twitter news feed.

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