June 7, 2023: Recent key releases from Twitter could land the venue in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission if it can’t comply with an earlier agreement, Democratic senators warned company leaders Friday.
After news broke in the previous week that the head of trust and safety of Twitter, Ella Irwin, and director of brand safety and promotion quality, A.J. Brown, had departed, four senators noted in a letter to Twitter owner Elon Musk and the recent CEO Linda Yaccarino that they were concerned about Twitter’s ability to meet its legal duties.
Twitter arrived in into a consent order with the FTC finalized in 2011. It barred the company for 20 years from misleading consumers about its security and privacy protections and demanding a robust information security agenda subject to separate audits.
Last year, Twitter reached a $150 million settlement with the FTC and Department of Justice for allegedly violating that agreement by using consumer information it purportedly ordered for security reasons to target ads.
In the letter, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, expressed concern about Twitter’s ability to yield with its earlier commitments in light of the recent departures.
“These personnel changes, firsthand account from employees, and hasty launch of new products raise questions about whether Twitter can comply with its obligations under the FTC consent decree,” the senators wrote. “In unmistakable dismissal of concerns regarding reducing his workforce, Mr. Musk’s team has said he is ‘used to going to court and which pays penalties and was not worried regarding the risks,'” citing a New York Times article describing Musk’s takeover.
The Democrats asked the Twitter leaders whether and how the company has complied with the security and privacy obligations in the FTC consent decree. The senators requested answers by June 18.
“Mr. Musk’s behavior reveals an apparent indifference towards Twitter’s longstanding lawful obligations, which did not disappear when Mr. Musk took over the company,” the senators wrote. “Regardless of his wealth, Mr. Musk is not exempt from the law or the business he purchased.”