Elon Musk’s paid Twitter verification is delayed, and unlabelled parody banned

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Elon Musk’s plan to put Twitter’s blue tick verification badges up for sale has reportedly been delayed, slowing the microblogging platform’s rapid plummet to hell by a fraction. However, Musk is also banning unlabelled parody accounts.

The New York Times reports that Twitter’s paid verification will now be launched Nov. 9, one day after the U.S. midterm elections. The update was previously scheduled to launch Nov. 7, with Musk reportedly threatening to fire employees if they failed to meet this deadline.

Paid verification’s rollout delay comes after Twitter employees and users alike expressed concern at the potentially devastating impact Musk’s scheme could have on election integrity. The ability to buy verification status would allow anyone to obtain a blue tick and use it to masquerade as high-profile figures, letting them publish tweets that appear to come from politicians or news outlets. This could easily fuel misinformation about the election results, and undermine the election.

The likelihood that Twitter will become a dangerous hotbed of disinformation when Musk’s changes do go live is not insignificant. But at least the U.S. gets one last election free of this imminent chaos.

Some verified Twitter users have protested Musk’s verification changes by demonstrating how easily Twitter’s blue tick can be abused — and how easily people can be tricked. Artist Mark Brooks temporarily changed his account name and profile picture to impersonate Harrison Ford, then shared tweets from users who believed him to be the famous actor.

Dozens of users have also changed their usernames to some variation on “Elon Musk (parody)”, while verified accounts belonging to comedian Kathy Griffin, Mad Men actor Rich Sommer, and former NFL player Chris Kluwe have all been suspended after changing their display name and profile picture to match the real Musk’s.

SEE ALSO:

Elon Musk’s Twitter: Everything we know about verification, the edit button, and more

Musk tweeted on Sunday that Twitter will permanently suspend any account that impersonates someone else unless it has clearly labelled itself as parody. It’s unclear whether this label needs to be in the account’s name, or if a disclaimer on its profile will suffice.

“Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning,” tweeted Musk. “This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.”

This response mitigates rather than prevents damage, and relies on accounts spreading disinformation being caught before they do substantial harm. It becomes even more ineffectual when you consider that Musk cut about 50 percent of Twitter’s workforce on Friday, putting approximately 3750 people out of work and significantly diminishing the platform’s ability to quickly respond to bad actors. (Dozens of the fired workers have reportedly been asked to return already, per Platformer’s Casey Newton, with Bloomberg reporting that some had been let go “by mistake”.)

Twitter is also likely to have a hard time distinguishing between an unlabelled parody account and the real deal, as actual identity verification may no longer be needed to get one of Twitter’s blue ticks. This is dangerous regardless of whether you have a high profile or not, since your entire life could potentially be torn apart by anyone with $8 and a grudge.

To top it all off, Musk also stated that “any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark,” potentially putting an end to the longstanding Twitter tradition of spooky Halloween nicknames. So much for comedy now being legal on Twitter.

Elon Musk is like a giant, in that he blunders about destroying things with absolutely no concept of what he is doing. Twitter wasn’t necessarily a bastion of virtue before Musk’s takeover. But it’s astounding how far it’s fallen in just over a week.





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Las Vegas News Magazine

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