Elon Musk should not be individually responsible for Twitter

Social media has always been controversial. Whether the conversation is on the mental health of teens, politicians doing God-knows-what with Cambridge Analytica, or celebrities face-tuning their photos, there tends to be a lot of contrasting opinions on every social media platform. Lately, it seems that the discourse has shifted to account verification on apps such as Instagram, Facebook, and especially Twitter. However, Musk seems to be in over his head since his purchase of Twitter.

Elon Musk seems to be solely responsible for the recent focus and criticism on social media verification, since Twitter introduced Twitter Blue, a subscription plan that starts at $8/month and allows users to add a verification checkmark next to their username. And according to “India Today”, he also fired about 64% of its employees at the time, a decision that has cost him, since the board of directors was cut too. Previously, both celebrity and company Twitter accounts were the only ones that were allowed to be verified so that it would be difficult for them to be impersonated, but suddenly it became accessible for anyone willing to pay.

Once Twitter Blue was up and running, all hell broke loose. People all over the timeline made impersonation accounts of companies, and were able to make them look legit for only $8. A verified Eli Lilly account tweeted that “insulin is free now.” Despite some skepticism from the public, their stock price dropped 4.37%, and according to “The Hustle”, Eli Lilly lost around $15 billion. Not only does an $8 tweet making a company lose $15 billion sound unreal, but it also caused other companies such as General Mills and United Airlines to stop running their ads on Twitter. For organizations however, they have to pay $1,000/month for their checkmark. Several publications such as “The New York Times”, and “Politico” have stated that they will not pay for their accounts to be verified, considering that the value of Twitter checkmarks have fallen, now that just anyone can buy them.

I can empathize with Elon Musk’s intentions to increase freedom of speech online. However, his execution has been a failure. It is incredible to me that someone who has been credited as a sharp businessman, did not predict such a daylong dumpster fire on Dec 12, 2022, the day that the new Twitter Blue was released. While Musk has increased the amount of free speech on his platform, Twitter Blue’s madness has proved that some things should be gatekept.