The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is closely watching Twitter’s moves under new owner Elon Musk months after the agency fined the firm tens of millions of dollars, a spokesperson confirmed this week.
“We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” an FTC spokesperson said in a statement to news outlets on Thursday. “No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”
The comment comes after several top executives in Twitter departed the firm in recent days, including Yoel Roth, who was reportedly involved in censoring social media posts around Hunter Biden ahead of the 2020 election. Roth, who had frequently criticized former President Donald Trump, confirmed his departure from the social media company by changing his biography on the site to “Former Head of Trust & Safety at @Twitter.”
In May 2022, the FTC fined Twitter $150 million over how it handled users’ data and advertisements. That was months before Musk took over the company.
The FTC spokesperson’s confirmation Thursday about a possible investigation was in response to reports about a Slack message sent out by a Twitter lawyer to all employees.
“I have heard Alex Spiro (current head of Legal) say that Elon is willing to take on a huge amount of risk in relation to this company and its users, because ‘Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC,’” the attorney claimed, according to The Verge. Musk and other top Twitter employees have not publicly commented on the message or confirmed it.
The attorney went on to state that Twitter’s legal department would mandate the company’s engineers to “self-certify compliance with FTC requirements and other laws.
“All of this is extremely dangerous for our users. Also, given that the FTC can (and will!) fine Twitter BILLIONS of dollars pursuant to the FTC Consent Order, extremely detrimental to Twitter’s longevity as a platform. Our users deserve so much better than this,” the attorney added.
The Verge also published a note from Musk to staff, which said that “I cannot emphasize enough that Twitter will do whatever it takes to adhere to both the letter and spirit of the FTC consent decree” before he added that “anything you read to the contrary is absolutely false.”
“The same goes for any other government regulatory matters where Twitter operates,” he said.
Twitter has not responded to a request for comment.