“Selling the truth is dangerous and unacceptable. Twitter must explain how this happened.”
Mass Sen. Ed Markey was the latest figure to get into a high-profile spat on Twitter with the richest person on Earth.
Citing numerous regulatory probes into the businesses of Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, Markey demanded that he “fix” his companies or the U.S. government will intervene.
“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 Malden Democrat tweeted Sunday. “Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”
Last Friday, Markey sent a letter to Musk seeking an explanation after a Washington Post reporter said they were able to easily set up a verified account impersonating the senator (with Markey’s permission).
“Apparently, due to Twitter’s lax verification practices and apparent need for cash, anyone could pay $8.00 and impersonate someone on your platform,” Markey wrote. “Selling the truth is dangerous and unacceptable. Twitter must explain how this happened and how it will prevent it from happening again.”
Musk responded by mocking Markey.
“Perhaps it is because your real account sounds like a parody?” Musk tweeted in response.
Markey isn’t the only Bay State official to spar with the billionaire since his Twitter takeover.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has had back-and-forths with the billionaire in the past, criticized Musk shortly after the purchase.
“I don’t think any billionaire ought to be the one who has that kind of power, to decide how Americans, how people around the world get a chance to talk to each other,” Warren said in an interview with Stephen Colbert earlier this month. “I got a real problem with him.”
While Musk has said that he wants the social media site to be “warm and welcoming to all,” an increase in racist comments on the platform was reported shortly after the acquisition.
Markey’s social media prominence grew in 2020 when his reelection campaign used the platform to generate excitement in the leadup to his primary with Joe Kennedy. As the 2020 presidential primary drew to a close and the COVID-19 pandemic began locking activists and volunteers in their homes, political energy newly defunct progressive presidential campaigns in the Northeast began to funnel online energy into defending Markey’s seat from what was perceived as an establishment challenge.
Kennedy, initially favored by many, wound up losing by more than 10 points.
Since then, Markey’s unabashed support for progressive causes and policies like the Green New Deal and corporate antitrust regulations has sustained his strong reputation on the left.
Patrick Cochran is an independent journalist covering politics and grassroots activism.