'Real' Real Ed Markey Seeks Twitter Answers From Elon Musk

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote new Twitter chief Elon Musk seeking some answers after a Washington Post reporter was able to get the @realedmarkey Twitter handle and pay $8 for a blue verification checkmark, saying a new — though short-lived — company practice under Musk is "dangerous and unacceptable" and suggests larger problems with Musk's takeover of the powerful social media site.

The account was verified because it's “notable person in government," said Markey, even though it was the reporter.

Buying such marks is a new Musk effort to make more money for the site.

Markey said that "apparent need for cash" has led to lax verification practices that suggest "anyone could pay $8.00 and impersonate someone on your platform."

Markey says Musk needs to explain how it will prevent a repeat of such impersonation.

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He also slammed what he called Musk's "rapid and haphazard imposition of platform changes, removal of safeguards against disinformation and firing of large numbers of Twitter employees," which he said had powered Twitter's descent into the "Wild West of social media."

Markey said that despite Twitter ending the pay-for-verification checkmark move following the Post article, which was about a proliferation of impersonation accounts, there are questions that need answering, including whether there are any plans to reintroduce a verification system and how a reporter was able to get the fake account.

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The Post was also reporting that the Federal Trade Commission has pledged to keep its eye on Twitter to make sure that the firings and resignations of high-profile execs does not undercut the company's privacy oversight responsibilities under a consent decree with the FTC stemming from allegations Twitter misused users' data for targeted advertising.

The Post reported that some of the people leaving the company were from a data governance committee set up as part of the FTC settlement. ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.