Once again proving that Musk et al have not thought any of this through, they've paused the $8 Twitter Blue subscription thing two days after launching it, because, yes, there are a lot of nitwits and bad actors out there who want to pose as celebrities.
On Thursday, after some immediately proliferation of fake "verified" accounts, Twitter changed its rules to say that all impersonation-type accounts must have "parody" in their name, or else they will be suspended. The Twitter Blue subscription service, as Bloomberg reports, is also temporarily on pause, but all existing subscribers still have access to their accounts.
Also, those gray "official" badges, which were launched and then canceled on Tuesday, are back again.
Musk meanwhile has spent the last 24 hours tweeting a lot and sounding like a strung-out substitute teacher trying to hold it together and keep the peace and teach a class at the same time.
"Quite the day!" he wrote. "Some epically funny tweets," he added, kind of like a sub trying to show he's not upset and he's cool with getting dragged all day by the class.
being on Twitter right now is like playing the violin on the titanic except we are also making fun of the iceberg and the iceberg is getting genuinely mad— 🌻✨️Lauren Dombrowski🏴☠️🍊 (@callmekitto) November 6, 2022
"Usage of Twitter continues to rise. One thing is for sure: it isn’t boring!" Musk said, reassuring everyone that the platform still stands. Also, he said, "Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t."
This morning had him attacking all the bad press about his rocky transition at the company by suggesting this is just sour grapes from "mainstream media" worried that "elevating citizen journalism" on the platform will somehow put them to shame? Because there's going to be so much TRUTH-telling on the new Twitter and no disinformation at all, like over on Truth Social, or something?
Mainstream media will still thrive, but increased competition from citizens will cause them to be more accurate, as their oligopoly on information is disrupted— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2022
Now that the head of Trust & Safety at the company, Yoel Roth, whom Musk seemed to put some faith in for at least a week, has resigned, along with several other executives charged with taming the chaos, the task of tamping down the "free-for-all hellscape" that Musk claims not to want is likely just getting harder?
I guess when you're the richest man on Earth for whom consequences haven't been very dire or devastating in any aspect of life so far, you have a tendency to plow forward, make quick decisions, and act with the arrogance that those decisions are good ones until you change your mind again. Thus the entire Twitterverse and tech media world seems to be laughing at Elon Musk as he sows chaos and moves very quickly toward what could be disaster for Twitter — after rashly deciding he should buy it, basically because he could and he spends half is life on it anyhow.
Did Musk and his "goons" — as employees have apparently been referring to the transition team of loyalists Musk brought in, as the Times has repeatedly told us — honestly think that in 16 years of developing the Twitter platform there hadn't been a fair amount of thought, trial, and error put into the concept of the "verified" user and how they were verified? Musk may not like the "lord and serf" nature of the former system, but if there is no high bar to cross to getting a blue checkmark, then what's stopping everyone from being LeBron James one day and Dolly Parton the next, turning Twitter back into the free-for-all asylum it was in its early days — only with millions more regular users/trolls?
As a headline today on The Verge puts it well, "Elon Musk learns the hard way that being a Twitter troll is way more fun than being a mod." And writer Elizabeth Lopatto goes on to say that Musk is stuck right now trying to "figure out how to make money while people scream at him and impersonate him. Fun job!"
And Lopatto notes that advertising always slows in a slowing economy, but Musk is exacerbating the problem by sowing the kind of chaos that advertisers do not like. "Even if Musk weren’t doing wild stuff to alienate advertisers, such as tweeting conspiracy theories about Paul Pelosi, Twitter might have been in trouble anyway," Lopatto writes. "But Musk has essentially identified himself and his company as a loose canon, which means that anyone looking to trim advertising spend might be inclined to cut Twitter first."
One blue-chip company ad exec, Lou Paskalis at Bank of America, was one of those who met with Musk and has already oscillated between believing in his sincere vision for a more healthy Twitter "town square," and observing his behavior as its new owner as "petulant and thoughtless." Semafor reported on Paskalis's comments, noting that Yoel Roth and Musk might be able to regain advertisers' confidence — but now Roth has already quit.
So yes, the mess continues! It's only Day 8! And Musk has already proven himself the type of CEO who expects people to work hard and have a great attitude and devote their lives to the company even while they're being told they're worthless, they have to pay for their own lunch now, and the company may have to go bankrupt anyway. Awesome management skills, those.
Previously: The Musk Era of Whack-a-Mole With Fake 'Verified' Accounts at Twitter Has Begun, and More Execs Are Resigning
Photo: Joshua Hoehne