BOSTON (AP) — Elon Musk tweeted Sunday that Twitter will permanently suspend any account on the social media platform that impersonates someone else.
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 reaction to the decision of billionaire to offer verified accounts to all comers for $8 a month while simultaneously laying off a large chunk of the workforce.
“Going forward, any Twitter handle that does not clearly define “parody” will be permanently suspended,” Musk wrote. While Twitter previously issued warnings before suspensions, now that it’s rolling out “broad verification, there’s no warning.”
In fact, “any name change” would force the temporary loss of a proven check mark, the world’s richest man said.
Comedian Kathy Griffin His account was suspended on Sunday after he changed his screen name to Musk. He told a Bloomberg reporter that he also used his profile picture.
“I don’t think ALL content moderators are fired? Lol,” Griffin joked after Mastodon, an alternative social media platform where he set up an account last week.
Actor Valerie Bertinelli similarly uses Musk’s screen name – posting a series of tweets in support of the Democratic candidates on Saturday before switching back to her real name. “Okay-dokey.” I had fun and I think I made my point,” he tweeted afterwards.
Before the stunt, Bertinelli noted the original purpose of the blue verification mark. It is provided free of charge to people whose identity is confirmed by Twitter employees; with journalists covering many of the recipients. “It just means that your identity has been verified. Scammers will have a hard time impersonating you,” Bertinelli said.
“That doesn’t work anymore. Good luck there!” he added.
The $8 verified accounts are Musk’s way of democratizing the service, he said. On Saturday, a Twitter update for iOS devices listed in Apple’s app store said that users “signed up today” for the new “Twitter Blue with -verify” will get the blue check next to their names “like your celebrities, companies and politicians. already following.”
It said the service will first be available in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK However, it will not be available on Sunday and there is no indication of when it will roll live. A Twitter employee, Esther Crawford, told The Associated Press that it’s coming “soon but it hasn’t been launched yet.”
Twitter did not respond Sunday to an email seeking comment about the verified accounts issue and Griffin’s suspension.
Musk later tweeted, “Twitter should be the most accurate source of information about the world. That’s our mission.”
If the company removes current verified users with blue checks — something that has never happened — that could exacerbate disinformation on the platform during Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Like Griffin, some Twitter users have already begun migrating away from the platform — Counter Social is another popular alternative — after layoffs that began Friday reportedly affected nearly half of the company’s 7,500 workers. Twitter. They fear that the breakdown of moderation and verification could create a disinformation free-for-all in what is the internet’s main channel for reliable communications from public agencies and other institutions.
Many companies have stopped advertising on the platform out of concern that it could become more unruly under Musk.
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, sought to allay such concerns in a tweet on Friday. He said the company’s front-line content moderation staff was the group least affected by the layoffs.
Musk tweeted on Friday that he had no choice but to cut jobs “if the company is losing $4M/day.” He did not give details of the daily absences on Twitter and said that the employees who lost their jobs were offered three months’ salary as severance.
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