The Federal Trade Commission is stepping up its investigation into some of Twitter’s most controversial decisions since Elon Musk took over the company last fall. That includes the company’s mass layoffs and the launch of Twitter Blue, as well as the company’s dealings with journalists involved with the so-called “Twitter Files,” according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.
At issue, is Twitter’s 2022 settlement with the FTC over its use of “deceptive” ad targeting. Along with a $150 million fine, the company at the time agreed to a “comprehensive privacy and information security program,” as well as other strict measures meant to protect users’ privacy. But there’s been widespread concern from lawmakers and others that Twitter has not adhered to those requirements under Musk’s leadership.
Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that the FTC has sent at least a dozen letters to Twitter since last fall in an effort to get more information about the company’s handling of layoffs, Twitter Blue, the “Twitter Files” and other issues. The agency is also reportedly trying to depose Musk as part of the inquiry. The House Judiciary Committee also released a report about the FTC's inquiries to Twitter.
The report isn’t the first suggestion that Twitter may have run afoul of the regulator since Musk’s takeover. The FTC previously said it had “deep concern” following the departures of key privacy and security executives. Lawmakers and others have also raised concerns about the hasty rollout of Twitter Blue, which reportedly launched without a proper privacy or security review, a requirement of Twitter’s FTC settlement.
Likewise, as Bloomberg pointed out last year, the settlement also requires Twitter to limit internal access to Twitter users’ data. Security experts have questioned whether Musk’s decision to hand over reams of internal documents and grant journalists access to internal systems could violate its obligations with the FTC.
In a tweet, Musk called the FTC’s actions “a shameful case of weaponization of a government agency for political purposes and suppression of the truth.” Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee also criticized the agency’s investigation as “harassment.”