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Top security and privacy executives resign from Twitter amid escalating concerns about the untested rollout of new features

Musk seems to think he's above the law when it comes to complying with the FTC.

Twitter headquarters stands on 10th Street on November 4, 2022 in San Francisco, California.
David Odisho / Stringer / Getty Images

If anyone was wondering what it’s like behind the scenes at Twitter since Elon Musk has taken over as “Chief Twit,” well … imagine the “This is Fine” meme dog, but perhaps with more fire or explosive diarrhea or something.

On Thursday it was reported that Twitter’s CISO, chief privacy officer, and chief compliance officer all resigned on Wednesday night as Musk continues to rollout new features that haven’t been given proper security review. In addition to putting users in jeopardy, these hasty decisions could also leave both the company as well as individual employees vulnerable to action from the Federal Trade Commission.

Coincidentally, these resignations come right on the heels of Musk announcing that he plans to monetize the platform, which would require users to pony up their bank account and credit card information. Cool!

According to a whistleblower from within the company who shared Slack messages, going forward it will now be up to engineers to “self-certify compliance with FTC requirements and other laws.”

“All of this is extremely dangerous for our users,” stated the message, according to big tech reporter Casey Newton. “Given that the FTC can (and will!) fine Twitter BILLIONS of dollars pursuant to the FTC Consent Order, extremely detrimental to Twitter’s longevity as a platform. Our users deserve so much better than this.”

Twitter’s now-former Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner tweeted about his decision to leave the company on Thursday morning.

“I’ve made the hard decision to leave Twitter,” Kissner wrote. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people and I’m so proud of the privacy, security, and IT teams and the work we’ve done.”

According to the Washington Post, the FTC said it was “tracking the developments at Twitter with deep concern.”

For context, the agency had previously reached a consent decree with Twitter in May, amid allegations that the company had been targeting users with advertising using email addresses and phone numbers it claimed to have been collecting for security purposes. In doing so, Twitter violated a previous consent decree it had reached with the FTC in 2011.

Under the new decree, Twitter was required to launch enhanced privacy and security programs, which were to be audited by a third party — including conducting privacy assessments of any new products the company launches.

However, the Slack message adds: “Elon is willing to take on a huge amount of risk in relation to his company and its users, because ‘Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC.'”

“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” FTC’s director of public affairs Douglas Farrar told the Post. “Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”

So, the long and the short of it is that Elon Musk doesn’t seem to grasp the legal issues he’s currently wading into blindfolded, which sounds about right, considering the ill-advised decisions he’s made so far. As just one example, the platform has veritably turned into the wild west in the wake of Musk’s pay-to-play blue checkmark scheme — and it’s only a matter of time before someone literally impersonates Yosemite Sam.

Stacey Ritzen
About the author

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen is a Philadelphia-based reporter with 15 years of experience covering pop culture, entertainment, web culture, and news. She has previously worked for outlets including Uproxx, Pajiba, Daily Dot, and more.