Wrong user accounts: Musk argues with US Senator – who threatens an investigation

A journalist creates a fake profile for a US senator. He asked Musk to put his companies in order – otherwise, Congress would intervene.

The confusion after the takeover of Twitter is now threatening to become real trouble with politics for Elon Musk: A supposed Twitter account of a US senator with the blue verification symbol was the reason for a verbal exchange of blows with the real US senator, the Democrat Edward J. Markey. Musk published a sharp warning on Twitter: He should fix his company, otherwise, Congress will do it.

The trigger for the dispute was an action by a journalist from the Washington Post. He managed to create a fake account of Senator Markey on Twitter with the blue tick. Previously, this mark was reserved for the actual and verified identity of the Twitter account holder. After Musk took over Twitter, however, it has recently also signaled subscribers to the new payment model “Twitter Blue” for just under $8 a month – without an identity check. As soon as the new offer was activated, numerous people used it for fake accounts with satirical content, some of which portrayed people or companies in a bad light.

Elon Musk expressed the view that payment services and app platforms offer sufficient protection against misuse of the new system through their own authentication. Twitter quickly added additional information that should indicate whether the blue symbol should be understood according to the old model (note “Original”) or not. But the confusion was already taking its course. Twitter temporarily switched off the new subscription for the weekend in order to focus more on the fake accounts.

Senator Markey vented his anger that the Washington Post’s action was possible, accusing Musk of making Twitter a “social media wild west” with his hasty and indiscriminate changes to the platform. That was unacceptable, Markey wrote and asked Musk to provide explanations about the verification system on Twitter. But Musk defiantly responded on Twitter with the sarcastic comment that the mix-up of the two Senator accounts may be because the original reads like a parody.

Markey countered this dryly by pointing out that the Twitter company had made commitments to the consumer protection regulator FTC, and that the automotive company Tesla, also managed by Musk, was being investigated by the NHTSA for several deaths. Markey concluded by warning: either Musk “fix the companies” or Congress will do it.

Meanwhile, Twitter is making another attempt to curb the new fake accounts. An additional function should enable companies to identify user accounts linked to them in the future. Musk briefly announced this in a tweet on Sunday, without giving further details.

The company also continued with mass job cuts over the weekend. Most recently, according to reports from Platformer, external employees were particularly affected. From sources on Twitter and reports from the company, Casey Newton claims to have learned from Platformer that around 4,400 to 5,500 contract employees had been made redundant. This probably happened mostly without notice and in the middle of their ongoing projects. This particularly affects the content moderation teams and the central Twitter services. Twitter employees also reported that external team members suddenly disappeared from the Slack chat.

Elon Musk began mass layoffs among permanent employees immediately after taking over the company; however, some of them were asked to return shortly afterward because their expertise was still needed. Musk himself has already mentioned to Twitter employees that bankruptcy of the company can no longer be ruled out. Musk’s actions would have actually endangered the company’s stability and made Twitter less reliable, an insider reports.

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