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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

US regulator concerned about Twitter


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Washington: A US regulator has said it is watching with “deep concern” events unfold at Twitter after the platform’s top privacy and compliance officers reportedly quit.

On Thursday, its chief privacy officer Damien Kieran and chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty resigned according to reports, and the company’s chief security officer Lea Kissner also quit.

The social media firm has been in disarray since its new owner Elon Musk started firing thousands of employees last week.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Twitter’s new Chief Executive was “not above the law” as it was reported that Musk told employees that bankruptcy is not out of the question for Twitter, the BBC said.

The ability for users to buy verified status as part of a new subscription has raised concerns that the platform could be swamped with fake accounts.

The top Twitter departures may increase the risk of the platform violating regulatory orders. The firm was fined $150 million in May for selling users’ data, and had to agree to new privacy rules. Twitter paid the fine in May to settle allegations it had illegally used users’ data to help sell targeted ads.

“We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” Douglas Farrar, the FTC’s director of public affairs, said. “No chief executive or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees.”

Farrer said the FTC had “new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them”.

In addition to the May fine, Twitter had to agree to new rules, and put in place a beefed-up privacy and security programme – overseen by the executives reported to have quit, the BBC said.

Since taking charge, Musk has fired former chief executive Parag Agrawal and other top management, and the company’s advertising and marketing chiefs have also left, adding to concerns that Twitter does not have enough people in place to oversee that it remains compliant with regulations.

Twitter makes most of its money through advertising, but some large advertisers have paused spending while they take stock of the changes that Musk is bringing in.

On Thursday, Chipotle Mexican Grill said it had pulled back its paid and owned content on Twitter “while we gain a better understanding on the direction of the platform under its new leadership”.

Chipotle joined other brands, including car firms General Motors, Volkswagen, and Audi, drugs giant Pfizer, and food manufacturer General Mills, which owns brands including Cheerios and Lucky Charms.

Some brands are said to be concerned that Musk will relax content moderation rules and reverse permanent Twitter bans given to controversial figures, including former US President Donald Trump.

Musk reportedly told employees during a company meeting he was not certain about the future financial performance of the company, and that bankruptcy was not out of the question.

Twitter has not commented or reacted to FTC concerns.

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