Hillicon Valley — GOP senator presses Musk on Twitter security

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Twitter CEO Elon Musk is facing more questions from Congress, this time stemming from security concerns he inherited when he closed the deal.

Meanwhile, Meta said it removed a network of fake accounts that was linked to individuals associated with the U.S. military

This is Hillicon Valley, we’re Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. (Programming note: We’re taking off starting tomorrow for the holiday. We’ll return Monday!)

More questions for Musk

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressed new Twitter CEO Elon Musk over data security concerns raised by a Twitter whistleblower who came forward before Musk completed his acquisition of the company.

Grassley’s Wednesday letter to Musk focuses on issues Musk inherited when taking over Twitter, differing from pushback from the senator’s Democratic colleagues that centers on changes Musk has made since taking the reins at the end of October.

Grassley told Musk Twitter’s former CEO cited “the ongoing litigation with you as an excuse” to sidestep questions about the whistleblower allegations. Now that Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition, Grassley told Musk he’s “uniquely positioned to provide answers to Congress where [his] predecessor failed.”

  • In September, former Twitter security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko alleged widespread security deficiencies at the platform in a whistleblower disclosure sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DOJ) and lawmakers. Zatko also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • Grassley asked Musk to respond to questions he and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) raised in September to Twitter’s former leadership about the allegations.

Read more here.

Meta links fake accounts to US military

A network of fake accounts promoting U.S. interests to countries in the Middle East and Central Asia was linked to individuals associated with the U.S. military, Meta said Tuesday.

  • Meta removed dozens of Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as additional pages and groups linked to the network, for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior, the tech giant said in its quarterly adversarial threat report.

  • It marks a rare instance of the Silicon Valley-based company tying an influence campaign to the U.S. rather than a foreign nation.

Meta said that the people behind the operation “attempted to conceal their identities,” but the company’s investigation “found links to individuals associated with the US military.”

Pentagon’s response: Pentagon spokesman César Santiago said in a statement the department is “aware of the report published by Meta” but declined to comment on the report’s findings “at this time.”

“We will look into and assess any information that Meta provides,” Santiago added.

Read more here.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT HIT WTH CYBERATTACK

The European Parliament’s website was hit Wednesday with a “sophisticated” cyberattack claimed by a pro-Kremlin group, according to its president.

The Parliament had voted the same day to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism over its war on Ukraine.

“The @Europarl_EN is under a sophisticated cyberattack. A pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility… This, after we proclaimed Russia as a State-sponsor of terrorism,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said in a tweet.

“My response: #SlavaUkraini,” Metsola said, using Ukraine’s national salute, “Glory to Ukraine.”

Metsola said IT experts were working to protect the parliament’s systems and stave off the attack. The identity of the pro-Kremlin group claiming responsibility and the extent of the damage to the site has not yet been shared.

Read more here.

MUSK POLLS TWITTER USERS ON SUSPENDED ACCOUNTS

Elon Musk has posted a poll on Twitter about whether the platform should offer a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts as long as they have not broken the law or engaged in “egregious spam.”

The Twitter and SpaceX CEO published the post on Wednesday, days after he restored former President Trump’s account for the first time since he was banned from the website in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

Musk tweeted on Saturday that he made the decision after a narrow majority voted in favor of restoring Trump’s account in another Twitter poll he posted.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he said, using the Latin phrase meaning “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”

Read more here.

👾 BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Consumer privacy pitfalls for the new Congress to avoid

Notable links from around the web:

Saluting in Solidarity (The New York Times / Reyhan Harmanci)

Right-wing influencers and media double down on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the wake of the Colorado shooting (NBC News / Ben Goggin and Kat Tenbarge)

‘They grab their lunches and sit alone’: Russians shunned at global cyber confabs (Politico / Maggie Miller and Eric Geller)

📱Lighter click: Just checking in

One more thing: Meta denies resignation rumors

Facebook’s parent company Meta denied a report that CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to resign next year.

“This is false,” Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, said in a tweet responding to the story from the news outlet The Leak, which focuses on leaks in the “political and entertainment landscape,” according to its website.

  • The Leak cited an unnamed source in reporting that Zuckerberg chose to step down himself.

  • The report and denial come as Meta faces financial struggles amid high inflation and a potential recession in the near future.

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Monday!

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