Elon Musk threatens to take down Twitter account impostors

People walk outside the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, Friday, November 4, 2022.

Jeff Chiu/AFP

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Jeff Chiu/AFP

People walk outside the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, Friday, November 4, 2022.

Jeff Chiu/AFP

BOSTON – Elon Musk tweeted Sunday that Twitter will permanently suspend any account on the social media platform that impersonates another.

The new owner of the platform issued the warning after some celebrities changed their Twitter display names – not their account names – and tweeted “Elon Musk” in response to the billionaire’s decision to offer verified accounts to all comers for $8 a month as he simultaneously laid off a large part of the workforce.

“From now on, any Twitter engagement that engages in impersonation without identifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” Musk wrote. While Twitter previously issued warnings before the suspensions, now that it has started “widespread verification, there will be no warning”.

In fact, the world’s richest man said that “any name change whatsoever” would result in the temporary loss of a verified badge.

Comedian Kathy Griffin’s account was suspended on Sunday after she changed her screen name to Musk. She told a Bloomberg reporter that she also used his profile picture.

Griffin then joked on Mastodon, an alternative social media platform where she created an account last week: “I guess not all content moderators are abandoned?

Similarly, actress Valerie Bertinelli has dedicated Musk’s name to the screen — posting a series of tweets in support of Democratic candidates on Saturday before returning to her real name. “O.K.-Dookie. I had fun and I think I made my point,” she wrote on Twitter afterwards.

Before the trick, Bertinelli noticed the original purpose of the blue check mark. given free of charge to people whose identity Twitter employees have confirmed; With journalists representing a large percentage of recipients. “This simply means that your identity has been verified,” Bertinelli noted. “Scammers will find it difficult to impersonate you.”

“That no longer applies. Good luck there!” She added.

The $8 verified accounts are Musk’s way of democratizing the service, he claims. On Saturday, a Twitter update for iOS devices listed on Apple’s App Store said users who “Sign Up Now” to the new “Twitter Blue with Verification” can get a blue check mark next to their name “just like celebrities, businesses and politicians. Already follow.”

It said the service would be available first in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, however, it wasn’t available on Sunday and there was no indication when it might launch. Twitter employee Esther Crawford told The Associated Press it’s coming “soon but it hasn’t started yet.”

Twitter on Sunday did not respond to an email requesting comment on the issue of verified accounts and Griffin’s comment.

Musk later tweeted, “Twitter needs to become the most accurate source of information around the world. That’s our mission.”

If the company strips existing, approved users of blue checks – which it hasn’t – it could exacerbate misinformation on the platform during Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Like Griffin, some Twitter users have already begun migrating from the platform – Counter Social is another popular alternative – after layoffs that began on Friday that were said to have affected about half of Twitter’s workforce of 7,500 employees. They fear that the breakdown of moderation and verification could create free-for-all misinformation about what was the Internet’s main channel of trusted communications from public agencies and other institutions.

Several companies have paused advertising on the platform, fearing that it will become more difficult under Musk.

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, sought to allay such concerns in a tweet Friday. He said the company’s frontline content moderators were the group least affected by the job cuts.

Musk tweeted late Friday that he had no choice but to cut jobs “when the company is losing more than $4 million a day.” He did not give details of Twitter’s daily losses and said employees who lost their jobs were offered three months’ compensation in compensation.

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