Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts is calling on Congress to pass new legislation to rein in Big Tech companies after Elon Musk ignored an information request. “Elon Musk could respond to my tweets but failed to respond to my letter by yesterday’s deadline and answer basic questions about Twitter verification,” Markey tweeted Saturday. “Congress must end the era of failed Big Tech self-regulation and pass laws that put user safety over the whims of billionaires.”
Musk had until November 25th to answer a letter the senator sent on November 11th about Twitter’s paid account verification feature. The initial rollout of the new Twitter Blue saw trolls use the service to impersonate celebrities, politicians and brands. Markey sent Musk a list of questions about the launch after The Washington Post created a “verified” account impersonating him. One day after Markey shared a copy of the letter on Twitter, Musk attacked the senator.
“Perhaps it is because your real account sounds like a parody,” Musk tweeted. “And why does your pp have a mask!?” he added a few hours later, referring to Markey’s profile picture, which shows the policymaker wearing a face covering. The exchange prompted Markey to chastise the billionaire. “One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you’re spending your time picking fights online,” the senator said. “Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”
As of the writing of this article, Musk has yet to respond to Markey’s latest tweet. It’s hard to say whether the senator’s call will translate to legislative action, particularly with a split between the House of Representatives and Senate. Musk did appear to answer at least one of Markey’s questions when he announced Twitter’s new verification system on Friday. The latest iteration of the program will feature manual authentication and different colored check marks for different types of users. “Gold check for companies, grey check for government, blue for individuals (celebrity or not) and all verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates,” he said.