Twitter Blue and a perfect storm

If Elon Musk’s first days at the helm of Twitter were turbulent, the launch of the Twitter Blue service left millions in losses for some companies and damaged the image and reputation of others, as well as well-known personalities.

I told a friend a few days ago: The Twitter story with Elon Musk has just begun. I have the impression that we have not seen anything yet. How I wish I had been wrong! Unfortunately, everything that has happened in the last week in the world’s most popular microblogging social network was coming.

Billions of dollars in losses for some, the failure of Twitter Blue, the proliferation of fake accounts and a series of other situations have happened in full view, with Musk placing “blame” on the media that “has put against him” to “end freedom of expression.”

If in the first installment of this Twitter saga we talked about how events had transpired since the richest man on the planet took control of the company, we return to this topic because what happened afterwards was no less… probably worse.

The failure of Twitter Blue

Twitter Blue is a service that was launched in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom on November 9. It is a facility so that, for eight dollars a month, anyone who wants to have a verified account —with a blue monogram next to their name— can do so.

Traditionally, the black and white monogram of Twitter has meant that the account is “authentic”, that is, the user behind it – whether a natural or legal person – is who they say they are. The company based in San Francisco, United States, has for this a series of protocols that lead to checking that, indeed, the account is not false.

At the same time, Twitter has allowed the creation of “parody” accounts. Without any verification, they impersonate prominent figures and often use comedy as a weapon to gain followers and gain interactions.

Well, the launch of Twitter Blue triggered the creation of parody users… who didn’t specify who they were. Suddenly, chaos came to Twitter at the hands of trolls, a situation contrary to what Musk wants, which is to eliminate fake accounts.

On November 10, a Twitter Blue verified account, purportedly from the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, announced in a tweet that insulin would now be free. The “gimmick” of that fake user cost the real company a stock market crash and losses of $14 billion.

The next day, Lockheed Martin, one of the largest manufacturers of the military-industrial complex, warned on Twitter that it was suspending arms sales to the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia until further notice, while “investigations into their human rights abuses” were completed. . Lockheed Martin plunged 5 percent on the stock market.

Among other successful “trolls”, basketball player LeBron James announced that he wanted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers, his current team; Mario showed the middle finger to his followers on the Nintendo account; a bead named Jesus Christ received the blue badge; there was a heated debate between several popes and a George W. Bush tweeted: “I miss killing Iraqis”, to which former British Prime Minister Anthony Blair replied: “Me too.” Of course, all these accounts are fake, even though they have been “verified” by Twitter Blue.

Total chaos

Elon Musk appears to be running Twitter on a trial-and-error basis, even if it costs companies billions of dollars — which continue to pull their ads en masse — or hurts the reputations of personalities, who are also moving to other networks, like Mastodon.

Mr. Musk’s erratic behavior has already had plenty of examples. Within days of taking over, he tweeted that the sitcom was legal on Twitter from that point on. Then the well-known American comedian Kathy Griffin changed her name to Musk and sent a message about the midterm elections in the United States: “After a very lively discussion with the women in my life, I decided that voting blue is the only right thing to do”, wrote Griffin, under the name of the Tesla founder. Her account was permanently suspended.

“Going forward, any Twitter user involved in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘spoof’ will be permanently banned. Before we issued a pre-suspension warning, but now we are implementing a general verification and there will be no warning, “Musk clarified after the measure. He also said that any name changes on verified accounts will result in the removal of the distinguishing mark.

This same behavior of I say and then I change my mind is what has happened with Twitter Blue. In an attempt to avoid fake accounts and more easily distinguish authentic, high-profile ones from those subscribed to Twitter Blue, Elon Musk launched the “Official” label. The latter could be seen under the username in the profiles of those verified and true accounts. But within a few hours the new CEO of the company removed it. In some regions of the planet there are reports that this second verification label is back again. The truth is that in the face of so much uncertainty, Twitter Blue was put on hold until further notice.

To troubled river…

Mastondon has become fashionable in the face of uncertainty with Elon Musk and Twitter.

Mastodon is a social network that these days has gained notoriety in the face of the turbulence that is taking place on Twitter. Although it is also for short messages or microblogging, it does not work the same as that of the little blue bird, but it serves as an alternative.

It is integrated into the Fediverso ideology, a term used to refer to the set of social networks that share the same philosophy, that of creating a network based on different servers or instances. This is like having several versions of Mastodon, but they come together to create a whole, explains the specialized publication Xataka.

Hence its first big difference with respect to Twitter. The username will depend on the instance in which you register. For example, if a user registers as “pedro”, and does so from the mas.to instance, then his address will be mas.to/@pedro, but if he registers in another instance, the address to access the content will be different.

Despite the fact that the operating philosophy is different, press reports indicate that Mastodon has benefited from the “Elon-calypse” on Twitter, gaining more than 100,000 users in a few days. And if the owner of Twitter continues to lurch, this saga may not have ended yet.

Twitter Blue and a perfect storm