The US Federal Trade Commission has asked Twitter to turn over internal communications related to Elon Musk, along with information about recent layoffs, with a focus on how the staff reductions at the social media company could affect its ability to protect users, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The FTC has also asked Twitter to “identify all journalists” given access to company records and to provide information about the launch of the overhauled Twitter Blue subscription service, according to documents viewed by the Journal. Since Musk took over the company in October, the agency has sent a dozen letters to Twitter and its lawyers, the Journal reported.
“We are concerned these staff reductions impact Twitter’s ability to protect consumers’ information,” an FTC official wrote to Twitter’s lawyers on Nov. 10 after the first round of layoffs earlier that month, according to the Journal.
The commission also asked whether privacy reviews were conducted before implementing product changes, as required under a May 2022 consent order in which Twitter agreed to pay $150 million for misrepresenting how it would use nonpublic user contact information.
The FTC is also seeking to have Musk testify in connection with the probe, the Journal reported.
The FTC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the commission told the Journal that the agency is “conducting a rigorous investigation into Twitter’s compliance with a consent order that came into effect long before Mr. Musk purchased the company.”
Twitter, which no longer has a communications department, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk, who purchased Twitter in October for $44 billion, cut roughly 50% of its workforce, or about 3,700 workers, in the first month — layoffs that spurred lawsuits alleging workers’ rights violations. More executives and workers quit, with so many defecting that Twitter users feared the site would crash.
As Musk cut costs and jobs, he also made rapid changes to the service, such as rolling out a new system for verifying accounts and reinstating banned accounts like that of former US President Donald Trump, who Twitter had booted from the platform for violating the site’s rules against glorifying violence.
Musk’s move to charge for features that are typically free has irked people who use the platform, especially because the changes have been made with little notice. Twitter fumbled the rollout of an updated verification system last year that allowed users to get a coveted blue check mark if they pay a subscription fee.