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Why the US FTC Has Asked Twitter for Elon Musk’s Internal Communications

The US Federal Trade Commission asked Twitter to turn over some internal communications related to owner Elon Musk and other detailed information about business decisions as part of an investigation into the social media company, according to a report put out by two House of Representatives committees.

The FTC has sent more than a dozen letters to Twitter and its lawyers since Musk’s takeover in October. Among the requests were the company “identify all journalists” who were granted access to company records and to provide information about the launch of the revamped Twitter Blue subscription service, the report said.

The FTC also wants Musk to testify in connection with the probe, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Musk, in a tweet, said it was “a shameful case of weaponisation of a government agency for political purposes and suppression of the truth!”

Twitter did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The FTC said “it should come as no surprise that career staff at the commission are conducting a rigorous investigation into Twitter’s compliance with a consent order that came into effect long before Mr. Musk purchased the company.”

The staff report by the House Judiciary Committee and Select Subcommittee on the Weaponisation of the Federal Government said while some of what the FTC had asked for was relevant to its probe regarding Twitter, other elements went too far.

“There is no logical reason why the FTC, on the basis of user privacy, needs to analyse all of Twitter’s personnel decisions. And there is no logical reason why the FTC needs every single internal Twitter communication about Elon Musk,” the report said.

The agency has been asking Twitter if it has the required resources to comply with the privacy consent decree, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last year.

One of the FTC’s concerns was whether Twitter had the staffing needed to abide by a May 2022 settlement with the US regulator in which it agreed to improve its privacy practices and place responsibility on people who held certain positions. The concerns had been prompted by mass layoffs at the firm.

Twitter in May agreed to pay a fine of $150 million (roughly Rs. 1,230 crore) to settle allegations that it misused private information, and also improve its compliance practices.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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