Senator Ed Markey has a few questions for Elon Musk. Earlier today, Geoffrey A. Fowler of the Washington Post was able to successfully impersonate the senator and clinch a blue checkmark, putting into question (yet again) the effectiveness of Musk’s latest Twitter verification process.
After “a spare iPhone, a credit card and a little creativity,” Fowler was able to place the blue checkmark next to the fake verified account posted under the username @realedmarkey. The test was done with the permission of Markey, who has criticized big tech for years.
Twitter appeared to have paused the $8 Twitter Blue verification program after the Post published its test and as mock celebrity and brand impersonations took over the platform’s feeds.
Following the identity coup, Markey (D-Mass.) penned a letter to Musk, and slammed the Twitter CEO for the company’s unraveling.
“Safeguards such as Twitter’s blue checkmark once allowed users to be smart, critical consumers of news and information in Twitter’s global town square,” Markey wrote. “But your Twitter takeover, rapid and haphazard imposition of platform changes, removal of safeguards against disinformation, and firing of large numbers of Twitter employees have accelerated Twitter’s descent into the Wild West of social media.”
Twitter has undergone a grueling two weeks of change and half-baked declarations from Musk, sending both employees and users into confusion on what exactly is going on in the quickly dwindling C-suite. After switching Twitter verification badges to a pay-for-play model of $8, the program lasted less than three days before Twitter came to a fluttering halt and paused the program on Friday. Yet just the day before, the company also backtracked on a short-lived double-verification model.
Meanwhile, Twitter has been attempting to save face by declaring any account impersonating someone else will be suspended. As a result, comedian Kathy Griffin was booted off the platform after she changed her Twitter screen name to Elon Musk. And Doja Cat ran into similar troubles with Musk’s nonsensical new verification rules after changing her account name to “Christmas” and not being able to change it back until Thursday.
Since taking over Twitter, half of the company’s staff was laid off (then management begged dozens to come back), Musk sold some $4 billion in Tesla stock in a bid to “save” Twitter, and in a dire email sent Thursday, the CEO wrote “there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn.”
In his letter, Markey demanded Musk to clarify Twitter’s current process for issuing blue checkmark verifications and the company’s plans to reintroduce a new strategy.
Before singing off, the Senator wrote: “Allowing an imposter to impersonate a U.S. Senator on Twitter is a serious matter that you need to address promptly.”