Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter in late October, implemented the new feature earlier this week. But after a handful of fake/parody accounts were made, the company decided to shut it down … for now.
At some point this week, you probably thought you read a tweet from LeBron James requesting a trade, Adam Schefter claiming Raiders coach Josh McDaniels had been fired, or New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman announcing his intent to sign an extension with the team. However, none of those things are true, and the Twitter accounts that concocted those lies no longer exist.
This is because they were written from fake accounts falsifying the aforementioned figures. When Twitter rolled out the paid subscription innovation Twitter Blue on Wednesday, it unlocked a carte blanche for people looking to create a little drama on the internet. For just $8 per month, anyone could convince the 200+ million users they were anyone worth giving a damn about. Disparaging posts quickly surfaced, some even poking fun at our nation’s top political figures amidst the tense midterm elections.
While most were harmless and worth nothing more than a chuckle, the long-term repercussions could be significant. Not to mention, it could shape the way we receive news from trusted sources. For less than what you’d pay for food at an NFL stadium, someone with nothing but free time could impersonate an individual who has spent decades perfecting his craft and gaining the confidence of team owners and top execs.
Before most people even had a chance to select a character they’d cosplay, Twitter “paused” the feature on Friday.
Grand opening, grand closing.
In a note obtained by The Washington Post, the move was to “help address impersonation issues.” Twitter CEO Elon Musk took control of the company in late October, and to say it has been chaos since then is an understatement. Between laying off thousands of staffers from the top down and revoking the remote work policy, effectively demanding all employees report to the office, the social media site has perhaps seen its darkest week since its March 21, 2006 debut.
Considering Musk operates on an act now, think later mentality, Twitter Blue could rear its ugly head again sooner than we’d expect. But the damage has already been done. Twitter as a brand, a platform 70% use as a main source of news, has thrown its dependability into question. Instead, a space filled with well-meaning people and equally as morally corrupt individuals posting on a site that doesn’t have either of their best interests in mind.
During some of the most pivotal moments in pop culture over the last 15 years, Twitter has been a sounding board. Remember when J.R. Smith dribbled the ball into the backcourt as time elapsed to put the Golden State Warriors ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals? Twitter didn’t waste any time laughing at his expense. Just this weekend, we’ll be treated to instant reactions from those flocking to the cinema in droves to see the highly anticipated Black Panther sequel. What will they be tweeting within minutes of walking out of the theater?
Seriously speaking, Twitter is also a place where burgeoning writers and undiscovered talent could have their work seen by top execs in television, film, and digital media in an instant. Accounts dedicated to posting job listings for diverse candidates exist to give those in marginalized communities access to the opportunities only reserved for Ivy League graduates.
Not everyone wants to be a content creator filming unboxings or learn a trendy dance move that’ll be forgotten about by the month’s end. Some of us just want to keep up with the current discourse without actually having to participate in the conversation. Even if you want to post a vlog from a recent trip, Twitter remains a guaranteed place to gather recommendations for the next jaunt.
As the networking social media site attempts to resurrect the characteristics that made it harmless fun in the first place, there’s no telling what happens to Twitter in the near future.
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