Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., suggested Wednesday that Twitter CEO Elon Musk will “pay a price” if he doesn’t fix problems with the platform’s new paid blue checkmark verification process.
Markey blasted Musk last week on Twitter after teaming up with a Washington Post writer who was able to easily create a verified fake account of the senator under Musk’s Twitter verification process. The Democratic senator demanded, “Twitter must explain how this happened,” and noted how Musk’s companies are subject to government oversight and investigation. He warned Musk, “Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”
Discussing the issue on Peacock’s “The Mehdi Hasan Show” Wednesday, Markey said, “Again, as the owner of these companies, he can fire anyone he wants. He can do whatever he wants inside of those companies, but when he’s dealing with the federal government in terms of federal laws, he’s not free to do that. You cannot ignore what the federal government is requiring of your company.”
“And that goes for safety rules in your vehicles, and it also goes for guardrails that have to be built around social media sites that are allowing for Twitter for eight dollars to give someone an ability to impersonate who they are. And they could be impersonating the fact that they’re the CDC, or Eli Lilly, or a United States senator. That is not permissible…They will pay a price if they don’t put safeguards in place at Twitter,” Markey added.
He continued, “We need to pass actual federal legislation to ensure that there are guardrails, that there are safeguards, that there are protections against vehicles being put out on the road made by Tesla or anyone else that doesn’t have a driver in them because it could endanger other drivers or pedestrians.
“And the same thing is true with Twitter. Twitter has been operating under a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission since 2011. They’ve been on privacy probation for 11 years. And that comes under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee in the Senate as well. And this is only to ensure that there is, in fact, protections for the safety on our highways and online for American consumers,” Markey said.
He also called on the FTC to investigate Musk for any potential foreign influence on Twitter by China or Saudi Arabia.
Earlier in the segment, Hasan also attacked Musk, primarily for his recent firings of hundreds of Twitter employees as well as Musk’s recent email urging workers to commit to “extremely hardcore” work or leave.
“More free speech from the free speech guy. That’s why Elon Musk bought the site, right,” Hasan remarked sarcastically.
He added, “This is not the behavior of a titan of industry who begs to be taken seriously. Twitter is becoming a deeper, darker cesspool of disinformation and chaos. And rather than stopping that from happening, Elon Musk is making things worse. And I know people say ‘who cares about Twitter?’ or ‘Twitter isn’t real life.’ But it is, actually.”