Trust, but Verify via Congressional Oversight
Is the Federal Trade Commission’s request that Twitter hand over the names of “all journalists and other members of the media to whom” the social media platform gave “any type of access to the Company’s internal communications,” since Elon Musk took over a politically-driven abuse of the agency’s power and a violation of the freedom of the press? Or might those requests stem from a 2011 consent decree between the FTC and Twitter? Those questions need to be answered and it’s the oversight responsibility of Congress to do so.
House Republicans released a report last night claiming that the FTC’s consent decree justification for its 350 requests for information from Twitter is a bridge too far and is instead an “aggressive campaign to harass Twitter.” FTC spokesperson, Douglas Farrar, counters that, “career staff at the commission are conducting a rigorous investigation into Twitter’s compliance with a consent order that came into effect long before Mr. Musk purchased the company.”
Considering many of the charges recently leveled at FTC leadership by departing Commission Christine Wilson, questions surrounding this ‘Twitter files’ development certainly warrant congressional attention. Congress must stay engaged in regulating the regulator as a matter of constitutional principle and to protect American businesses and consumers. The same can be said of the media’s role as watchdog. The political party of who’s in charge at federal agencies will change with elections, so both Republicans and Democrats should be concerned about a new means of snooping on journalists.