New Twist In Twitter Saga: Musk Withdraws $8 Verification

14 November, 2022 | Vijay Hardik

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Elon Musk forced to withdraw the $8 verification after fake handles impersonate corporations and politicians

The Twitter saga has taken a new twist. It has added to the ongoing confusion permeating the future of Twitter. The latest events that unfolded on Twitter forced Elon Musk to reverse another decision.

After taking over the social media platform, Elon Musk announced users needed to pay $8 per month for the verified status. Announcing the decision, Musk tweeted out the perks, users would enjoy for paying for the coveted blue tick.

Under the new policy, verified users would get priority in replies, mentions, and searches; get the ability to post long audio and video; reduced ads and paywall bypass for publishers. However, unintended consequences saw Musk scrapping the policy.

Verified Twitter accounts posed as official handles of big and reputed corporations. Tweets put out by these fake handles saw the stocks of the companies crash.

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, a producer of insulin, saw its share value tank. A fake handle impersonating the company announced Eli Lilly would provide insulin for free. It wiped out 4.5 percent of the stock value erasing investor wealth of over $15 billion. The fall in shares of Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) had a domino effect on the shares of pharmaceutical companies Novo and Sanofi.

Pharma company Eli Lilly had to issue a statement. They clarified their official Twitter account operated under the handle @LillyPad.  

Eli Lilly was not the only victim of impersonation. Defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin suffered losses after a fake account announced Lockheed Martin stopped weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and United States. The tweet was posted from the account @LockheedMartini.

Netizens and investors assumed the tweet was from the official handle of Lockheed Martin. The stock value of Lockheed Martin took a dive, post the tweet. Elon Musk too was not spared. Twitter users impersonated the account Tesla to tweet “A second Tesla has hit the World Trade Center.”

Big corporations were not the only victims of the malaise of impersonation. Political leaders have also been at the receiving end of it. A few days earlier, fake verified accounts impersonated former US president George W Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. They reportedly tweeted they missed killing Iraqis.

The US midterm results also dealt with misinformation propagated by these fake accounts. A fake account of Kari Lake, the Republican candidate running for Governor in Arizona, tweeted she had conceded the election to her Democrat electoral rival Katie Hobbs. The fake account has since been suspended.

The Musk approach to free speech absolutism by giving the blue tick away for $8 has been a window to spread disinformation. The unintended consequences which saw investor wealth wiped out from the stock market saw Musk pull the plug on it.

With the latest withdrawal of a policy announced by Musk, the confusion over the future of Twitter has grown. It is giving rise to chatter that the social media platform Twitter may meet its demise.