The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is demanding Elon Musk turn over internal Twitter documents, including a list of the journalists who were behind the viral “Twitter Files.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported Tuesday about more than a dozen letters the FTC sent to Twitter and its legal counsel as part of a probe looking into Musk’s 2022 takeover of the tech giant.
The information ordered by the FTC included a demand to “identify all journalists” who were granted access to the company’s archives, turn over anything involving the massive layoffs and the Twitter Blue subscription service, provide all internal communications related to Musk, and explain why Twitter fired its deputy general counsel and former FBI lawyer Jim Baker.
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Details of the letters emerged from an interim staff report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government which accused the government agency led by FTC chairwoman Nina Khan of overreaching to harass Twitter.
“The timing, scope, and frequency of the FTC’s demands to Twitter suggest a partisan motivation to its action. When Musk took action to reorient Twitter around free speech, the FTC regularly followed soon thereafter with a new demand letter,” the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee wrote in a press release on Tuesday. “The ostensible legal basis for the demand letters—including monitoring Twitter’s privacy and information security program under a revised consent decree between the company and the FTC—fails to provide adequate cover for the FTC’s action. A number of the FTC’s demands have little to no nexus to users’ privacy and information.”
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“There is no logical reason, for example, why the FTC needs to know the identities of journalists engaging with Twitter. There is no logical reason why the FTC, on the basis of user privacy, needs to analyze all of Twitter’s personnel decisions. And there is no logical reason why the FTC needs every single internal Twitter communication about Elon Musk,” the committee added.
Several of the journalists who authored various installments of the Twitter Files have slammed the FTC’s actions.
“The Biden administration is demanding that @elonmusk explain why he allowed journalists access to the Twitter Files. This is an outrageous attack on the First Amendment,” writer Michael Shellenberger tweeted.
Musk replied, “A shameful case of weaponization of a government agency for political purposes and suppression of the truth!”
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“Which journalists a company or its executives talks to is not remotely the government’s business. This is an insane overreach,” Substack writer Matt Taibbi reacted.
“Hmmm…” fellow Twitter Files colleague David Zweig wrote, which was retweeted by Free Press editor Bari Weiss.
An FTC spokesman told WSJ, “Protecting consumers’ privacy is exactly what the FTC is supposed to do,” adding the FTC “conducting a rigorous investigation into Twitter’s compliance with a consent order that came into effect long before Mr. Musk purchased the company.”
The office of the FTC did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Beginning in December, Musk granted independent journalists unprecedented access to Twitter’s archives, which were published in a series of viral threads dubbed “The Twitter Files.”
The Twitter Files exposed the platform’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story, the suspension of former President Trump, the shadowbanning of prominent conservatives as well as the company’s coziness with government agencies including the FBI, which had flagged Twitter accounts suggesting they were violating the company’s policies.
Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray denied to Fox News’ Bret Baier that the agency demands Twitter accounts be taken down, insisting Twitter makes those decisions itself.