Although at times it seems like no one can stop Twitter owner Elon Musk from doing whatever he wants with the platform, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey recently reminded the billionaire that there are still things called “laws,” telling the billionaire on Sunday to fix his companies “or Congress will.”
Markey’s beef with Musk began Friday when the Democratic senator tweeted at the SpaceX CEO and informed him that a Washington Post reporter was able to create a verified account that impersonated the lawmaker (Everyone and their mother had already been spoofing Elon Musk). The senator attached a letter asking Musk to explain how this had happened and to address the chaos going on with impersonation and Twitter’s paid blue check marks. In the letter, Markey said the Tesla CEO had until Nov. 25 to respond to his questions in writing.
Musk, as everyone knows, doesn’t take criticism too well, and decided to mess with Markey instead of addressing the senator’s concerns.
Markey didn’t take kindly to Musk’s trolling and pointed out some of the many problems his companies are in.
“One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people,” the senator tweeted at Musk on Sunday. “And you’re spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”
Ouch. What a burn.
Although picking fights online seems to be ingrained in Musk’s DNA, it probably wasn’t a smart move to pick a fight with a senator that happens to sit on a lot of committees that oversee his companies. Markey sits on the Senate’s Commerce, Transportation, and Finance Committee and is part of many subcommittees which oversee Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX.
Notably, Markey isn’t the only government official paying attention to Musk. Last week, following the resignation of Twitter’s CISO, its chief privacy officer, and its chief compliance officer, the Federal Trade Commission’s members stated that they were tracking the recent developments at Twitter “with deep concern.”
“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” an FTC spokesperson said. “Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”
Twitter is currently under two FTC consent decrees for violating users’ privacy and security in recent years. In May, the FTC fined the company $150 million for violating a consent decree from 2011 that forbade the company from using information it collected from users in the name of security for advertising purposes. As part of a new deal between Twitter and the FTC, the agency will keep a close eye Twitter’s privacy and security practices for the next 20 years. Twitter’s former head of security alleged in a whistleblower report over the summer that the company maintained lax security policies and failed to protect users’ information.
If Twitter breaches its agreements with the FTC, it risks paying billions in fines.