Twitter Cracks Down on Impersonators, Permanently Suspends Some Accounts Mocking Elon Musk

Twitter Cracks Down on Impersonators, Permanently Suspends Some Accounts Mocking Elon Musk

Elon Musk said Twitter users who impersonate other handles, without specifying it as a “parody” account, will be permanently suspended without a warning after a number of prominent accounts, including comedian Kathy Griffin, were kicked off the platform for pretending to be the billionaire and posting tweets mocking him.

Musk, the newly installed majority owner and CEO of Twitter and self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, revealed the policy in a tweet thread Sunday night. Musk tweeted, “Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying “parody” will be permanently suspended.”

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In a pair of follow-up tweets, Musk wrote, “Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning. This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.” He added, “Any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark.”

The hasty policy change on suspensions comes amid the chaos wrought by the seismic change in Twitter’s verification system, with the company committed to selling blue checkmarks to users willing to pay $8 a month for Twitter Blue membership. Tech and security experts have warned that Twitter’s headlong push into paid-for verification will lead to an increase in scams and a spread of disinformation on the platform.

Griffin was permanently from Twitter on Sunday night after she had changed her name and picture to match Musk’s. The suspension led to an outcry with users accusing the billionaire of being thin-skinned. “Free speech includes racism but not making fun of you,” wrote @brndxix in reply to Musk’s thread that garnered over 25,000 likes.

Compounding the issue, Musk then seemed to mock Griffin, tweeting in his replies, “Actually, she was suspended for impersonating a comedian. But if she really wants her account back, she can have it. For $8.”