Valerie Bertinelli just changed her name to “Elon Musk” on Twitter to prove a point. She was one of several celebrities with blue checkmarks, calling out Twitter’s new monthly “subscription” for blue checkmarks.
Bertinelli Changed Name to Elon Musk to Prove a Point
“The blue checkmark simply meant your identity was verified,” Bertinelli tweeted. “Scammers would have a harder time impersonating you. That no longer applies. Good luck out there!”
In another tweet, Bertinelli wrote, “Okey-dokey I’ve had my fun and I think I made my point. I’m just not a ‘trending’ kind of gal. Never have been, never want to be. Have a safe Sunday everyone! Xo.”
Bertinelli, whose Twitter handle is @wolfiesmom, went on to explain that anyone can now pay $7.99 a month to have a blue checkmark.
The subscription no longer actually verifies your identity, however. This leads to questions of account security as it seems that now anyone can impersonate anyone else. While they may not be able to change their account handle to the same name that they’re impersonating, they can make it very similar. And changing your name is also very easy to do.
Sarah Silverman, Others, Joined the Antics, Were Suspended and Restricted on Twitter
Other celebrities joined in the antics, with comedian Sarah Silverman also changing her name to Elon Musk.
“I am a freedom of speech absolutist and I eat doody for breakfast every day,” Silverman tweeted. On her profile page, she listed her job as “Twitter complaint hotline operator” and her location as “Hell.”
Her account was “temporarily restricted” shortly after and she has since changed her name back to her own. During the restriction period, anyone visiting Silverman’s profile saw a warning that said, “there has been some unusual activity from this account.” They were then prompted to click a button before being able to read Silverman’s tweets.
Comedian Kathy Griffin did the same. Her account was suspended for impersonating Musk.
Software engineer Rahul Pandey then tweeted at Elon Musk, asking him for clarification about the verification system.
“Hey @elonmusk I just want an answer, only one. What if someone impersonate the previously ‘verified profiles’ with a new profile having a ‘paid blue tick’?”
Musk quickly responded, posting a meme of Clint Eastwood saying, “Make My Day.” “Great question,” Musk responded. “Twitter will suspend the account attempting impersonation and keep the money! So if scammers want to do this a million times, that’s just a whole bunch of free money.”
Public Figures Are Now Leaving Twitter for Other Platforms
The change comes on the heels of Elon Musk’s recent ownership of Twitter. He paid $44 billion for the social media platform and acquired the company last week. Musk floated the idea for a bit but received a lot of pushback from verified account holders such as author Stephen King, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), actress Lynda Carter, and comedian Eric Idle.
Other celebrities jumped ship. TV screenwriter Shonda Rhimes announced her departure, tweeting, “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.” Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles tweeted, “Welp. It’s been fun Twitter. I’m out. See you on other platforms, peeps. Sorry, this one’s just not for me.”
AOC then criticized Elon Musk’s verification charge plan and subsequently claimed that her Twitter stopped working. She called him a “union buster with an ego problem,” and then said her account was malfunctioning shortly after.
“My twitter mentions/notifications conveniently aren’t working tonight,” she wrote, “so I was informed via text that I seem to have gotten under a certain billionaire’s skin (crying laughing emoji). Just a reminder that money will never [buy] your way out of insecurity, folks.”
The next day, AOC tweeted, ““Yo @elonmusk while I have your attention, why should people pay $8 just for their app to get bricked when they say something you don’t like? This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday. What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me.”
Twitter Blue Rollout Temporarily Postponed Due to Midterm Elections, Rules Changed
The verification system is a paid add-on that can be purchased from Twitter’s site on the Apple App Store. Quaintly named “Twitter Blue,” a user can now pay $7.99 to have a little blue checkmark next to their name on their Twitter account. The App Store is showing an outdated price of $4.99 as of now, however.
Additionally, the changes have been postponed due to concern among Twitter employees that the new system could lead to chaos during the midterm elections. It was initially set to begin on November 5.
“Power to the people,” said a Twitter announcement. “Your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.”
The New York Times reported that a Twitter employee posed an important question via the company’s Slack channels on Saturday. They asked why Twitter was “making such a risky change before elections, which has the potential of causing election interference.” The question seems like an obvious concern to many, as anyone could then pretend to be a pollster, news outlet, celebrity, or politician, and post fake data, quotes, or news.
Twitter then announced that the change would be postponed until November 9, after the election.
Elon Musk also made some announcements. On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted, “Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying “parody” will be permanently suspended.”
Musk followed up the announcement with another, “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.”
He also warned that “Any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark.”