Senate Democrats Seek FTC Investigation of Twitter

Screengrab of Sen. Richard Blumenthal during tech hearing
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) (Image credit: C-SPAN)

Senate Democrats are massing along a new front in the war with Big Tech and Elon Musk is in the line of fire.

A powerful group of senators led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potential consumer-protection laws by Twitter, which Musk has just bought.

“We write regarding Twitter’s serious, willful disregard for the safety and security of its users, and encourage the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate any breach of Twitter’s consent decree or other violations of our consumer protection laws,” they wrote in a letter to FTC chair Lina Khan.

Also: Groups Turn Up Heat on Twitter Advertisers

Khan herself has been a big critic of Big Tech, so they are in some sense preaching to the choir.

Musk has only been running the company for a few weeks, but the senators say his actions have “undermined the integrity and safety of the platform,” including by announcing new features “despite clear warnings those changes would be abused for fraud, scams, and dangerous impersonation.” Most notably was Musk's rollout — since rolled back — of Twitter Blue and the ability for users to buy blue verification check marks that allowed them to impersonate others.

Also: Twitter Chief Elon Musk Slams ‘Media Elite’

One of those already impersonated, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), has already called on Musk to answer a raft of questions about how he is operating the company.

Markey was among those calling Thursday (November 17) for the FTC investigation.

Back in May, Twitter agreed to pay $150 million to settle allegations it had violated a 2011 consent decree by using its users’ email addresses and phone numbers for marketing purposes after promising not to. ▪️

John Eggerton

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.