An image of new Twitter owner Elon Musk is surrounded by Twitter logos in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland, on November 8, 2022.
STR | Nurfoto | Getty Images
The Federal Trade Commission is closely watching Twitter’s moves under new owner Elon Musk, a spokesman said in a statement Thursday. The agency previously reached an agreement with Twitter, granting it oversight of certain security and privacy practices at the company.
“We are following the recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” an FTC spokesman said in a statement. “No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we’re ready to use them.”
The statement comes after several key security and privacy executives resigned or were fired from the company following Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.
The Washington Post previously reported on the FTC’s concerns.
As CNBC previously reported, Musk fired the former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and head of legal and policy affairs Vijaya Gadde soon after taking over the company. Since then, other executives have announced their departures, including most recently Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner. Musk also cut 50% of Twitter’s workforce.
According to internal communications obtained by CNBC, three executives involved in information security, privacy and compliance have resigned in recent days, including Kissner. In the message, an employee warns that the FTC could fine Twitter billions of dollars if it violates the consent decree. The author of the message advised his colleagues that they could contact Twitter’s ethics helpline or the FTC if they felt uncomfortable with the tasks assigned to them.
The message reminds workers that former Twitter security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko contacted the nonprofit law firm Whistleblower Aid to go public with complaints about Twitter’s security practices. Whistleblower Aid also represented Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and received funding from a foundation run by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who has been a leading critic of Big Tech companies.
The FTC’s latest settlement with Twitter builds on a 2011 settlement that required the company to install reasonable privacy safeguards and be responsible for an information security program. In 2022, when Twitter agreed to pay a $150 million fine for allegedly misleading users about how their phone numbers would be used to sell ads, the FTC won new concessions from Twitter about how the company would be required to protect user data . Under that order, Twitter agreed to install an enhanced privacy program and an information security program with specific requirements.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the FTC’s statement.
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