Ten days after announcing that “comedy is now legal on Twitter,” new owner Elon Musk is tired of being a joke. On November 6th, Twitter took disciplinary action against several users, including Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman, after they changed their handles to “Elon Musk.”
The comedians were two of the many Twitter users to adopt the name “Elon Musk” after the world’s richest man announced that Twitter would no longer verify politicians, journalists, and other notable people, but would instead offer a blue checkmark to anyone willing to pay $8 a month. This change was made to help Twitter’s plummeting revenues, but it would also eliminate one of the clearest ways to tell who is who in the murky world of online discourse.
After altering her handle to Elon Musk, Griffin encouraged Twitter users to check out the rival platform, Mastodon, and tweeted (via The Wrap), “After much spirited discussion with the females in my life, I’ve decided that voting blue for their choice is only right. (They’re also sexy females, btw.) #VoteBlueToProtectWomen.”
Under the name Elon Musk, Silverman tweeted, “I am a freedom of speech absolutist and I eat doody for breakfast every day,” Rolling Stone reports. Her account was only locked, and is now back under her control.
Mad Men actor Rich Sommer wasn’t so lucky. Impersonating Musk, he reportedly tweeted, “Does anyone know any advertisers who are, like, kind of ‘into’ racism NOT ACTUAL RACISTS!! just ad ppl who are, y’know, curious about what it’s all about (racism),” and his account has been suspended.
As the Musks began to multiply over the weekend, the original version announced a sudden shift in Twitter policy. “Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” the “comedy” lover tweeted. “Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning.”
Some impersonators, such as actress Valerie Bertinelli, changed back their Twitter handles before the suspensions went into effect. Griffin, Silverman, and Sommer did not do that. By 6:30 p.m. ET on November 6th, Griffin’s account had been banned — permanently, if Musks’ prior tweet was to be believed. Two hours later, Musk took a viral joke circulating on the platform and passed it off as his own, writing, “Actually, she was suspended for impersonating a comedian.”
“But if she really wants her account back, she can have it,” he added, “For $8.” This contradicted his previous statements about “permanent suspensions,” and since Twitter’s actual policy is a little vague on the point, depending heavily on the word “may,” we might not know for sure until the next time Musk tweets about it.
Last week, the real Elon Musk (we think) complained of a “massive drop in revenue” as advertisers halted spending on the platform. Since then, he’s told everyone to vote Republican in the November 8th midterm election, and shared a meme with a Nazi soldier, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that even more companies have paused ad buys.
Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning.Advertisement
This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2022
Actually, she was suspended for impersonating a comedian
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
Rich Sommer is gone now too pic.twitter.com/LN7XYQpgfY
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) November 7, 2022