Twitter’s new owner makes comments after celebrities change usernames to Elon Musk.
Elon Musk has said he will delete Twitter accounts impersonating others amid a response to the billionaire’s decision to offer the platform’s blue tick to all users for a monthly fee.
Musk said on Sunday that all accounts “engaged in impersonation” would be permanently suspended after a number of high-profile accounts changed their names to Elon Musk to protest a shake-up of the platform’s authentication standards by Tesla’s CEO.
“Going forward, any Twitter handle that engages in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” Musk tweeted.
“We previously issued a warning for the suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no more warning. This is clearly stated as a condition of signing up with Twitter Blue.”
Musk later tweeted that “widespread verification” would democratize journalism and give a voice to the public.
Over the weekend, celebrities including comedian Kathy Griffin and actor Valerie Bertinelli changed their screen names to Elon Musk in an apparent effort to highlight the dangers of doing away with identity verification.
Under Musk’s Twitter Blue subscription service, users can get a blue check — without having to prove their identity — for a monthly fee of $7.99.
Previously, known users and accounts deemed of public interest could request a tick for free after verifying their identity.
The new service appeared on Apple’s app store on Saturday, but has yet to go live.
Musk, a self-proclaimed “absolute free speech,” has described the old verification rules as a “gentlemen and peasant system” and cast the changes as a way to democratize the platform.
Since finalizing his $44 billion purchase of Twitter last month, Musk has initiated sweeping changes at the influential social media company, including the layoff of about half of the platform’s 7,500 employees.
Critics have expressed fears that Musk’s ownership of the platform will exacerbate the problems of misinformation, hate speech and fake accounts, especially in the run-up to crucial midterm elections in the United States on Tuesday.
Amid concerns within Twitter about the possibility of voting disagreements, the New York Times reported on Sunday that the company had decided to delay the rollout of the new service until the day after the poll.
Musk’s plans for the social media giant have also sparked corporate turmoil, with major brands including General Motors, General Mills and Audi interrupting ads as they seek clarity on direction under new ownership.
Musk, who came under fire last week for tweeting a baseless conspiracy theory about the attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has insisted he doesn’t support a “free for all hellscape” , but rather of a “common digital city square”. ” which allows for a wide variety of views.