Elon Musk has said that any Twitter handles engaging in imitation without clearly specifying “parody” will be “permanently suspended”, issued the warning after some celebrities changed their screen names and tweeted as “Elon Musk”
The new Twitter chief tweeted Sunday night: “In the past we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out comprehensive verification, there will be no warning.”[ads1];
“Any name change at all” would result in the temporary loss of a verified brand, Musk said.
By Sunday evening, several accounts that had changed their names to Elon Musk or approximated Elon Musk appeared to be suspended or placed behind a warning sign, including those of American comedian Kathy Griffin and the Australian satirical website The Chaser.
“I guess not ALL the content moderators were released? Lol,” Griffin joked afterward on Mastodon, an alternative social media platform where she created an account last week.
Actress Valerie Bertinelli had similarly appropriated Musk’s screen name by posting a series of tweets in support of Democratic candidates on Saturday before switching back to her true name. “Okay-dokey. I had fun and I think I made my point,” she tweeted afterwards.
The latest storm comes amid concerns about the potential for abuse of Twitter’s planned rollout of verification checks for a $7.99 monthly fee, a feature of its paid Twitter Blue service.
Bertinelli noted the original purpose of the blue verification mark. It was given free to people whose identity Twitter had verified; with journalists accounting for a large part of the recipients. “It simply meant that your identity was verified. Fraudsters would have a harder time impersonating you, Bertinelli said. “That no longer applies. Good luck out there!”
Answer to a tweet about this issue, Musk tweeted: “You represent the problem: journalists who think they are the only source of legitimate information. That is the big lie.”
The New York Times reported that Musk’s new Blue Cross proposal would be delayed until after the US mid-term elections, amid concerns that users could buy verification, pretend to be a political figure and then create electoral confusion.
A Twitter employee, Esther Crawford, told the Associated Press that the option is coming “soon, but it hasn’t launched yet.”
Musk appeared to defend his sweeping bans on Sunday, tweeting that he remained committed to free speech and would continue to allow the account flagging his movements to remain online. Musk has previously said that he is against permanent bans on Twitter.
Meanwhile, engineering teams at Twitter are rolling out new features at breakneck speed amid the chaos and distress caused by reports of the layoff of half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees.
On Sunday night, there were reports that dozens of those who had been laid off had been asked to return as either they were laid off in error or the company had since realized their work was essential to building the new features Musk is seeking.
He bought Twitter late last month for $44 billion, in a deal backed by billions of his own money. The entrepreneur has now set up a war room in the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, where he and a small team of advisers strive to save costs and push out new products.
As for previously banned accounts, Musk said last week that they won’t be allowed back on Twitter until the social media platform has “a clear process to do that.”
Creating such a process would take at least another couple of weeks, Musk had tweeted, providing more clarity on the potential return of Twitter’s most famous banned user, former US President Donald Trump. The new timeline suggests Trump will not return in time for the Nov. 8 midterm elections.