Will The FTC Strike Back Against Twitter?
It sure seems like it
A warning shot at Elon Musk from Samuel Levine, director of the Federal Trade Commission's bureau of consumer protection:
Twitter, now owned by Elon Musk, has been under a consent order with the FTC since 2011, subject to financial penalties if the company misrepresents "the extent to which [Twitter] maintains and protects the security, privacy, confidentiality, or integrity of any nonpublic consumer information."
Twitter has shed much of its staff working on privacy, security, policy and government relations, and it's not clear who within the company is now in charge of compliance with the FTC order.
Musk attorney Alex Spiro told Bloomberg Law last month Twitter would continue complying with the order.
But Spiro is no longer at Twitter, and Musk is filling his legal department with lawyers from his other companies, including Tesla, per the New York Times. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this year, Twitter was fined $150 million to settle allegations it failed to comply with the 2011 order by targeting ads using emails and phone numbers users provided in setting up accounts.
The intrigue: In the Axios interview, Levine would not comment specifically on the Twitter order. But he said generally: "One example [of a violation] that the agency has seen repeatedly over the last decade is business models where the people really are the products, business models that rely on harvesting our data and making it available to advertisers."
"What we really try to do in our orders is trying to reverse those incentives," Levine said.
How much of this will be driven by real concern about consumer data vs. animosity toward Musk himself, well… So long as he’s posting memes like this, I think it’s obvious.
More on the Twitter Files from Brendan O’Neill at The Spectator:
This week’s Twitter Files revelations are the most disturbing yet. They show how the employees of this private company, not voted for by a single American, conspired to censor the democratically elected president of the United States. It was nothing short of corporate tyranny, a sinister assault on public life by social media suits most people had never heard of. It should be front page news.
The newest report is written by Bari Weiss, who examines the decision-making process behind Twitter’s banishment of Donald Trump in January last year, a couple of days after the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. We all know Twitter’s official story: two tweets written by Trump incited those bozos to commit their violent acts — and thus he had to be silenced forever.
It turns out, as many of us suspected at the time, that this was pure bunkum. As Weiss discovers, numerous people at Twitter, including high-up officials, knew very well that the tweets Trump was ostensibly banned for did not amount to incitement to violence.
In one, he praised “the great American patriots who voted for me.” In the other, he said he would not be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration. Hilariously, Twitter said those tweets left it with no choice but to permanently suspend his account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
In January last year, amid all the leftish crowing about the slaying of the then-president by the oligarchs of Silicon Valley, some of us questioned the bizarre claim that those typically Trumpish tweets were in any way violent. We were ridiculed by online mobs high on the fumes of Trump’s censorship. Yet we’ve been vindicated. Twitter itself knew the tweets were not incitement.
The Twitter employees who were tasked with evaluating Trump’s tweets swiftly concluded that they did not violate Twitter policies. “I think we’d have a hard time saying this is incitement,’”said one. “Don’t see the incitement angle here,” said another. A Twitter policy official gave her view: “I am also not seeing clear or coded incitement in the tweet. [Our] team has assessed and found no vios [violations].”
Twitter Safety — the Star Chamber of this social media outfit, which spent years decreeing which ideas are acceptable for Twitter users to express — said “there is no violation of our policies at this time,” adding: “It’s a clear no vio.”
But then they all lost the plot. Some Twitter staff agitated for the banning of Trump. One madly likened him to a “leader of a terrorist group responsible for violence/deaths comparable to the Christchurch shooter or Hitler.” Before long, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy and trust, was asking if Trump’s tweets could in some way be seen as “coded incitement to further violence.” The internal meltdown continued and eventually Trump was banned, for tweets that Twitter knew, in its heart, did not violate its policies.
What happened next was even more chilling: Twitter minions noisily celebrated their despotic silencing of the elected leader of the free world. It “feels like a piece of history,” said one while another added that for too long, “Twitter’s stance was that we aren’t the arbiter of truth… which I respected but [it] never gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.”
More from Micah Meadowcroft and below from Mike Solana.
DeSantis Rises In Polls
Conservatives look to the other Florida Man.
In the last two days, Ron DeSantis sought a grand jury to investigate Covid-19 vaccines, questioned a new federal law protecting same-sex marriages and won a legislative victory that will hit the pocket books of lawyers.
And there will be more steps by DeSantis to lure conservatives to his side in the coming weeks and months ahead. There are already rumblings that state lawmakers will hold special legislative sessions between now and March to tackle issues such as guns and abortion.
Though he has yet to announce his presidential intentions, the moves this week continue the momentum DeSantis built after the Florida governor won reelection by roughly 20 points last month — necessary actions to ensure he doesn’t appear to peak too early. Put it all together and DeSantis will have a list of accomplishments to win over Republican voters if he announces his candidacy sometime in late spring, all while former President Donald Trump struggles to capture the same excitement as he did in 2016.
“Considering how relentless he is for the conservative cause, I can’t imagine a scenario where he ever lets off the gas,” said Christian Ziegler, the vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida. “But I especially cannot imagine him holding back after the voters sent him a crystal clear message in November that they want more — not less — of his conservative agenda.”
DeSantis has repeatedly said he doesn’t pay attention to polls, but his efforts keep resonating with Republican voters. Three polls released this week show the governor edging Trump, whose endorsement of DeSantis back in 2018 was a crucial factor in his winning that year’s GOP primary.
A long-time Tallahassee political consultant and DeSantis supporter insists the governor is remaining true to his brand and acknowledged DeSantis’ actions continue to help in a potential Republican primary that will include Trump, who announced his own candidacy in November.
“This is not self-aggrandizement to run for president,” said the consultant who was granted anonymity in order to discuss DeSantis freely. “These are issues that really matter to him philosophically.”
D.C. Metro Goes Off The Rails
The leadership of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) sounded an optimistic note in summer 2021. The pandemic, the agency said, had a silver lining for the 117-mile rail transit system, which crisscrosses Washington, D.C., and reaches into the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia.
Radically reduced demand, it continued, meant WMATA could prioritize much-needed maintenance without crippling service disruptions. A steady flow of capital subsidies approved before the pandemic, coupled with emergency federal relief, meant the agency should have the resources to get the job done.
"The region's investment is paying dividends to our customers who are getting better service," said Metro's then–General Manager Paul Wiedefeld in an August 2021 press release. "Riders who are returning for the first time since the pandemic will see a more reliable train service than we've offered in years."
The headline of an equally optimistic Governing article on October 8, 2021, declared, "D.C. Metro: Once Off the Rails, Now Back On."
Four days after the Governing article was published, a Blue Line train derailed outside the Rosslyn station in Northern Virginia. A preliminary investigation pinned the accident on wheel alignment issues with Metro's brand new 7000-series trains. Regulators said that Metrorail staff knew about the issue for years but had failed to act on the problem. A few days later, safety officials ordered all the 7000-series cars, about 60 percent of Metro's fleet, removed from the tracks.
Metro was back off the rails again.
Wait times for trains, typically somewhere between five and 15 minutes depending on the line, often became 30 minutes in the immediate aftermath of the 7000-series' removal. Ridership plummeted to 1970s levels, when Metro first opened. With fewer trains in service, the cars that were still operating were often overcrowded.
As of October 2022, most of those 7000-series cars remain mothballed; long wait times continue to frustrate the small crowd of remaining riders. Officials kept promising a return to normal order, and kept delaying that return. No one could authoritatively say when the third-largest heavy rail system in the country would be back on track.
Items of Interest
The U.S. must shape the emerging world order.
Can the Tories survive a right wing insurgency?
China’s brute force economics.
Retail sales plummeted in November.
Henninger: They want to shut you up.
Senate Democrats seize investigative power.
Loudoun County pages Merrick Garland.
Buttigieg vacationed in Europe as rail unions were about to strike.
AOC’s box office failure is a reminder of how little work she does.
Nancy Mace praised for confronting trans activist with their own words.
Joe Biden’s revisionist gay marriage history.
SBF’s family requests vegan food from jail.
DeSantis’ poll performance needles Trump.
Trump’s big announcement: He’s selling $99 digital trading cards of himself.
Senate passes Hawley bill to ban TikTok from government devices.
TikTok drives teens toward eating disorders, self harm.
Tumblr and the expansion of porn on social media.
Washington Post teases layoffs after losing 500k subscribers.
WaPo editor Sally Buzbee is considering leaving.
Mapping the fentanyl overdose deaths across the country.
Oral history of Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Why American Girls’ woke turn is so egregious.
Henry Cavill announces he won’t be returning as Superman after all.
Netflix turns Harry and Meghan into the Royal’s worst nightmare.
“To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.”
— Joan Didion