Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey reprimanded Elon Musk on Sunday after the billionaire gave a snappy response to the lawmaker’s request for information about Twitter’s new verification policy. “Maybe it’s because your real account sounds like a parody?” Musk tweeted Sunday morning after Markey sent a recent letter criticizing the company’s new $8-a-month Twitter Blue plan. “And why does your pp have a mask!?” Musk added a few hours laterreferring to Markey’s profile photo, which shows the senator wearing a face covering.
Markey was not impressed by Musk’s response. “One of your businesses is subject to an FTC consent decree. Vehicle safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you spend your time figuring out fights online,’ he said. “Repair your businesses. Or Congress will.”
Markey sent the letter triggering the exchange on November 11. In the letter, Markey asks Musk to explain how The Washington Post was able to create a verified account impersonating him and why an official pop-up told Twitter users the verification was due to a government role. Musk has until November 25 to answer those and other questions in writing.
Twitter suspended verification of paid accounts less than two days after the launch of its new Blue subscription. While the service was available, trolls used it to impersonate celebrities, politicians and brands, leading to chaos on the platform. One account posing as LeBron James claimed the NBA star had applied for are traded by the Los Angeles Lakers. Another tanked the pharmaceutical company’s stock Eli Lilly.
While there’s no guarantee Markey’s warning will translate into government action, the likelihood of a regulatory response on Sunday increased after Democrats secured a majority in the Senate. Markey is also a member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media and Broadband, the Senate panel most likely to recommend action against Twitter.
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