Elon Musk’s Twitter profile appears on a smartphone placed over printed Twitter logos in this photo illustration taken on April 28, 2022.
Given Ruvic | Reuters
without Ed Markey reprimanded Twitter owner Elon Musk on Sunday for his response to Markey’s request for answers about the platform’s new verification and impersonation policies.
After a Washington Post reporter successfully set up a fake verified account pretending to be the Massachusetts Democrat, Markey shared a letter to Musk on Twitter You come asking him to “explain how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.”
In response, Musk wrote Markey in one tweet sunday and said “Maybe it’s because your real account looks like a parody?”
Markey didn’t seem to appreciate Musk’s response.
“One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you’re spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will,” Markey wrote in a tweet sunday.
Twitter appeared to pause the $7.99-a-month Twitter Blue verification program shortly after the Post ran its test as celebrity and brand impersonations proliferated on the platform.
But before the break, the Post was able to set up a Twitter handle called “@realEdMarkey” using “a spare iPhone, a credit card and a little creativity.” The account received a blue checkmark, even though Markey already has two legitimate verified accounts.
The blue check is supposed to be a paid Twitter Blue feature, but the Post reporter found that Twitter said Markey’s fake account was verified “because it is notable in government, news, entertainment or another designated category.”
Twitter recently lost its top privacy and content moderation executives.
“Safeguards like Twitter’s blue mark once enabled users to be smart and critical consumers of news and information in Twitter’s global marketplace,” Markey. he wrote in his letter to Musk. “But your takeover of Twitter, the rapid and haphazard imposition of changes on the platform, the removal of safeguards against disinformation, and the firing of large numbers of Twitter employees have accelerated Twitter’s descent into the wild west of social media.”
Markey asked Musk to respond to his questions in writing by November. 25.
Musk and Markey’s exchange on Twitter isn’t the first time the pair have gone head-to-head.
Musk is also the CEO of the automaker Tesla, and Tesla’s driver assistance systems are branded Autopilot and Full Self Driving in the U.S. During a series of Tesla accidents in August 2021, Markey and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) expressed “serious concerns” about the way the company advertises these technologies. They asked the Federal Trade Commission to open an investigation.
The senators also called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June to take “aggressive investigative and enforcement action on vehicles with automated driving systems (ADS) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)” after the administration released the data showing more than 500 accidents in vehicles with these technologies.
— CNBC’s Lauren Feiner and Laura Kolodny contributed to this report.