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Musk vows to remove imposters from Twitter after celebrity protests

The social media giant’s new owner makes comments after celebrities changed usernames to Elon Musk.

Elon Musk has said he will remove Twitter accounts posing as others amid backlash over the billionaire’s decision to offer the platform’s blue check mark to all users for a monthly fee.

Musk said on Sunday that any account that “engages in phishing” will be permanently suspended after some high-profile accounts changed their name to Elon Musk to protest the CEO’s reshuffling of the platform’s verification standards. of Tesla.

“Going forward, any Twitter handles that engage in phishing without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” Musk tweeted.

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“Previously, we issued a warning before the suspension, but now that we are implementing widespread verification, there will be no warning. This will be clearly identified as a condition of signing up for Twitter Blue.”

Musk later tweeted that “widespread verification” would democratize journalism and give the public a voice.

Over the weekend, celebrities including comedian Kathy Griffin and actress Valerie Bertinelli changed their screen names to Elon Musk in an apparent effort to highlight the dangers of removing identity verification.

Under Musk’s Twitter Blue subscription service, users will be able to get a blue checkmark, without having to prove their identity, for a monthly fee of $7.99.

Previously, famous users and accounts deemed to be in the public interest could request a verification mark for free after verifying their identity.

The new service appeared in Apple’s app store on Saturday but has yet to launch.

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Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” described the old verification rules as a “lords and peasants system” and presented the changes as a way to democratize the platform.

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Since finalizing his $44 billion purchase of Twitter last month, Musk has initiated sweeping changes at the influential social media company, including laying off roughly half of the platform’s 7,500 employees.

Critics have raised fears that Musk’s ownership of the platform will worsen problems with misinformation, hate speech and fake accounts, especially ahead of the crucial US midterm elections on Tuesday.

Amid concern within Twitter about the possibility of voting discord, the New York Times reported on Sunday that the company had decided to delay launching the new service until the day after the vote.

Musk’s plans for the social media giant have also raised concerns in the corporate world, with big brands including General Motors, General Mills and Audi pausing advertising as they seek clarity on their direction under their new owner.

Musk, who came under fire last week for tweeting an unfounded conspiracy theory about the assault on the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has insisted he is not in favor of a “free hellscape”. for all”, but rather of a “common digital square”. ” that allows for a wide range of viewpoints.

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