Elon Musk’s Incompetence And Ego May Be Putting Twitter In The Crosshairs Of The FTC

A reader pointed me to this story on The Verge where it illustrates that the chaos within Twitter is worse than what we think it is. Let’s start with this:

Twitter’s privacy and security team is in turmoil after Elon Musk’s changes to the service bypassed the company’s standard data governance processes. The company’s chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, chief information security officer Lea Kissner, and chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty have all resigned, according to two sources and an internal message seen by The Verge. Kissner confirmed their departure in a tweet.

In a note posted to Twitter’s Slack and viewable to all staff, an attorney on the company’s privacy team wrote that “Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them. I do not believe he cares about the human rights activists. the dissidents, our users in un-monetizable regions, and all the other users who have made Twitter the global town square you have all spent so long building, and we all love.”

Well, I’ve been saying that for a while now. Thus it’s not a shock that this sentiment is starting to become more and more visible in the public sphere. But that’s not the worst of it. This is:

One of the main issues appears to be the FTC settlement Twitter agreed to in May after getting caught using personal user info to target ads. If Twitter doesn’t comply with that agreement, the FTC can issue fines reaching into the billions of dollars, according to the note. The note goes on to say that the writer has “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.’”

Musk’s new legal department is also apparently asking engineers to “self-certify” compliance with FTC rules and other privacy laws. “I anticipate that all of you will de pressured by management into pushing out changes that will likely lead to major incidents,” the lawyer wrote in the message to colleagues, which you can read below.

Here’s part of the internal Slack message sent by a leader on Twitter’s legal team:

Over the last two weeks. Elon has shown that he cares only about recouping the losses he’s incurring as a result of failing to get out of his binding obligation to buy Twitter. He chose to enter into that agreement! All of us are being put through this as a result of the choices he made. 

Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them. I do not believe he cares about the human rights activists. the dissidents, our users in un-monetizable regions, and all the other users who have made Twitter the global town square you have all spent so long building, and we all love.

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.” I have heard another leader in the Legal department say that because of the tight SLA’s (of two weeks?!) between product inception > launch, Legal will “have to shift the burden to engineers” to self-certify compliance with FTC requirements and other laws. This will put huge amount of personal, professional and legal risk onto engineers: I anticipate that all of you will de pressured by management into pushing out changes that will likely lead to major incidents. 

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.

If you feel uncomfortable about anything you’re being asked to do, you can call Twitter’s Ethics Hotline at (800) 275-4843 or submit a report at ethicshelpline.twitter.com. Please also note the FTC’s number is: 1-877-FTC-HELP. You may also remember that Mudge reached out to httos://whistlebloweraid.org

I wish you all luck. It’s been such an honor to work with all of you. And I’ll be taking a day of PTO today.

To be frank, this is far worse that I imagined as taking on the FTC is not a good idea as they have a great track record of winning against people who think that they are above the law. Musk thinks he’s above the law and will likely find out the hard way that he’s not. In the meantime Twitter users will lose and the platform will burn to the ground. And the person holding the matches and the the can of gas will be Elon Musk.

One Response to “Elon Musk’s Incompetence And Ego May Be Putting Twitter In The Crosshairs Of The FTC”

  1. […] validates this story from earlier today were I said that Musk messes with FTC at his own […]

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