Only a few days before the rollout of Twitter Blue's updated subscription service and only a few weeks after Elon Musk tweeted, "comedy is now legal on Twitter", previously verified accounts are being banned across the platform for an impersonation prank.
A few days before Twitter Blue went live, several prominent Twitter accounts, such as Kathy Griffin and host of the H3 podcast, Ethan Klein, changed their display name and profile picture to "Elon Musk" and began posting several tweets in an attempt to impersonate his account. A move that was done by both the individuals, and many others, as a way to prove that verified accounts will still be able to impersonate other accounts.
Klein and Griffin both already had verified blue check marks. "Yes, I could have ended world hunger instead of buying Twitter. But people don't understand the importance of having a free and open forum. If somebody dies of starvation in Sudan, it won't affect the world. But being able to say the N-word on Twitter is a right we all deserve," wrote Klein.
The wave of impersonations of Musk's account was eventually addressed by the Tesla CEO, who wrote on Sunday night that any Twitter accounts engaging in impersonation without having "parody" in the handle will be immediately banned and that any display name change has an immediate but temporary loss of the verification check mark.
It should be noted that impersonation was against Twitter's rules before Musk acquired the company and underwent a review. Musk has temporarily suspended the review process until an undisclosed time to get users used to seeing more of the new check marks. However, it should be noted that Musk did state, "comedy is now legal on Twitter", but has now permanently banned accounts that have impersonated him. These accounts did violate Twitter's Terms of Service, but impersonations are a form of comedy, with talented impressionists and stand-up comic Jay Pharoah being one that immediately comes to mind.
Musk may have claimed that "comedy is now legal on Twitter", but there are clearly still red lines around what is deemed "comedy" and what isn't. Additionally, in the past, Musk has advocated for the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump's account, saying that it was a mistake that it was banned in the first place.
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In other Elon Musk-Twitter news, the company recently fired half of its employees as Musk said it was the necessary decision as the platform was bleeding about $4 million a day. Now reports are coming out that Twitter has already contacted a portion of the fired employees and asked they return back to their position claiming that it was a "mistake" that some employees were let go.