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Twitter users will get banned for impersonating others if they don’t label their account as parody

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A lot has gone on since Elon Musk took over Twitter Inc., and today he introduced a new platform policy that seemed to surprise various parts of the media and public.

“Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” Musk tweeted. “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.”

Back in 2020, Twitter said impersonating people could fall under what it called misleading or deceptive content, but if the user made it clear that the account was not the person in question, then it might be given a pass. Nonetheless, Musk issuing news about not receiving a warning and being hit with a permanent ban seems quite extreme to some.

It seems this is a backlash to a number of celebrities who took to Twitter over the weekend pretending to be Musk to air their grievances about Twitter’s new verification system. Comedian Kathy Griffin found that her account had been suspended for impersonating Musk, as did “Mad Men” actor Rich Sommer.

Comedian Sarah Silverman did the same. Using Musk’s profile picture, cover image, and name, she tweeted, “I am a freedom of speech absolutist, and I eat doody for breakfast every day” Soon after, her account was labeled “temporarily restricted.”

Since Musk had indeed called himself a “free speech absolutist,” many people were critical of Musk and Twitter’s new policy, although it is likely had they not pretended to be Musk, their accounts would have been left alone. Twitter’s guidelines state that “to mislead, confuse, or deceive others” is a transgression that will likely lead to a reprimand.

It was a busy weekend for Twitter, with the company announcing that its new subscription policy would be put on pause for a while. The layoffs that Musk had promised did happen. “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day,” Musk tweeted. “Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.” Still, Bloomberg reported that Twitter might have mistakenly fired some folks and, over the weekend, was asking for “dozens” of them to come back.

Photo: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash

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