Elon Musk Could Be In BIG Trouble As The FTC Shows Up On His Doorstep… And That May Not Be The End Of His Troubles…

I’ve been saying for a while that it’s only a matter of time until Elon has some government or government agency on his doorstep with the intent on making his life miserable in terms of the stupid stuff that he’s done with Twitter. I always assumed that it would be the European Union as they tend to be first to act on stuff like this. But it looks like the Federal Trade Commission, who has had issues with Twitter before, have beat them to the punch:

The US Federal Trade Commission is deepening an investigation it opened this fall into Twitter Inc.’s privacy and data security practices in the wake of the company’s takeover by billionaire Elon Musk, according to people familiar with the matter.

FTC lawyers questioned two former senior executives in the past month about whether Twitter has been able to comply with the agency’s 2011 consent order since Musk took over, said three people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing a confidential investigation. Musk’s Oct. 27 acquisition led to an exodus of many of the social media company’s legal, privacy and compliance executives, prompting the wider investigation.

The FTC had already opened a new inquiry into Twitter after the company’s former chief cybersecurity officer, Peiter Zatko, filed a whistle-blower complaint, said the people. Zatko testified before Congress in September, alleging the platform was a “ticking bomb of security vulnerabilities.”

And:

FTC lawyers have interrogated two former top Twitter executives in the past month – Damien Kieran, the former chief privacy officer, and Lea Kissner, the most senior cybersecurity officer, the people said. Kieran and Kissner both quit Twitter Nov. 10, alongside the head of compliance. 

The probe marks at least the third time the FTC has scrutinized the social media platform over its privacy and data security practices. The review could lead to millions of dollars in fines and a new FTC order imposing obligations on Musk himself that would apply across his companies and remain in effect even if he steps down as chief executive officer or leaves Twitter.

“Why has Bloomberg News been asleep at the switch regarding government censorship of social media?” Musk said in response to an email seeking comment about the FTC investigation.

An FTC spokesman declined to comment. The agency said in a November statement that it’s tracking recent developments at Twitter with “deep concern.”

“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar said at the time. “Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”

Honestly, the FTC are the last people you want to get the attention of. Because they are the type of agency that won’t stop until they get you for something. Thus Elon is better of shutting up rather than running his mouth. Though he’s not capable of shutting up so this will end badly for him. Very badly for this reason:

Twitter paid a $150 million fine in May for violating its 2011 consent decree by misusing phone numbers that users uploaded for security purposes to instead target them with advertising. That settlement extended the FTC’s oversight of Twitter through at least 2042.

If the FTC finds something this time around, that fine of $150 million could be significantly higher. And Elon will have to pay. Plus it will likely encourage other governments and government agencies to come after him. Thus deepening his issues.

No wonder he’s looking for a CEO to replace him:

The billionaire posted an informal poll Sunday asking Twitter users if he should step down as head of the company, and a majority of the 17 million respondents voted for Musk to leave his post. He said Sunday he would abide by the results of the poll.

Twitter polls are straw polls, which means they are not comparable to professional public opinion research. Malicious bots or inauthentic accounts may also be able to register a response to a Twitter poll.

Sources told Faber that Musk’s search for a new CEO has been ongoing and began before the Twitter poll was made.

Much as I figured, he was plotting to get out of dodge long before that poll of his surfaced. Which he lost. Illustrating why he simply cannot be taken at his word. The fact is he knows that he’s about to have the boom lowered on him and he wants someone else to take the hit. Plus he also wants a puppet CEO that he can control from behind the curtain so that that CEO takes the brunt of the public anger for Elon’s decision making. Of course that may become irrelevant if the FTC decides to smack Elon silly because of his poor decision making.

Though based on this, he may be looking to stay on as CEO of Twitter:

So let’s think about this. A poll that he created on his own platform is rigged against him by bots that he said he was going to get rid of? That’s beyond laughable at this point. Or put another way, his credibility is shot. Which is likely why he’s now claiming to be resigning as CEO of Twitter when he finds a replacement. I’m not holding my breath on that front.

But his troubles don’t end with his lack of credibility. Tesla’s stock is in free fall as you know. But a reader pointed out what happened to the stock yesterday:

An 8% drop in a day isn’t trivial. It’s horrific if you’re a Tesla investor. If you look over the entire year, this is what you see:

This stock is bleeding uncontrollably like a gunshot victim. Which makes you wonder at what point does the Tesla board of directors or shareholders, or both decide to punt Elon from the CEO’s position at Tesla? I mean the stock is down over 65% versus the start of the year in an age where even a small decline in the value of a stock or the profitability of a company can cost a CEO their job. This sort of performance from Tesla’s stock should have cost Elon the CEO spot a long time ago. Considering that politicians like Elizabeth Warren are poking around Tesla and how the board of directors do their jobs, it is possible that Elon may be in deep trouble on this front as well.

It sucks to be Elon. Not that I feel sorry for him or anything.

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