On Friday, Twitter paused its recently announced $8 blue check subscription service as fake accounts mushroomed.
The coveted blue check mark was previously reserved for verified accounts of politicians, famous personalities, journalists and other public figures. But a subscription option, open to anyone prepared to pay, was rolled out last week to help Twitter grow revenue as Musk fights to retain advertisers.
The premium service became unavailable Friday after an impostor account posing as pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. and registered under the revamped Twitter Blue system tweeted that insulin was free, forcing the Indianapolis company to post an apology.
Nintendo, Lockheed Martin and Musk’s own companies Tesla and SpaceX were also impersonated, as well as the accounts of various professional sports and political figures. Others like BP Oil, Coca-Cola and President George W. Bush were also targeted.
Meanwhile, a war of words erupted between Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Musk regarding Twitter’s verification system.
On Friday, Markey criticized Twitter’s lax verification system and called out Musk for “putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation.” His comments came after he gave a Washington Post reporter permission to impersonate him on Twitter.
Musk later responded, asking if the ease with which the columnist could impersonate Markey was because his “real account sounds like a parody.”
Markey responded, telling Musk in a tweet, “Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”
There are reports of up to 5,500 contract workers, who focused on content moderation, being cut on the heels of the massive layoffs of around half of Twitter’s entire staff. The communications staff at Twitter has been reportedly fired.
The company hasn’t responded to NewsNation’s request for comment since Musk took over more than three weeks ago.