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Elon Musk Is Taking the Absolute Worst ‘Holiday’ and Making It So Much Worse

Tesla CEO Elon Musk waves as he leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building on January 24, 2023 in San Francisco, California.

I am one of the many people unlucky enough to have been born on April Fool’s Day. Yes, it is indeed the worst possible holiday to have a birthday on, thanks for asking! And it’s now about to get even worse thanks to the non-April fool that is Elon Musk.

Musk, Twitter CEO and ostensible “free speech absolutist” has announced some upcoming updates to the Twitter platform. Starting from April Fool’s Day, April 1, the social media site “will begin winding down our legacy verified program and removing legacy verified checkmarks.” The official announcement informs Twitter users that they can sign up for Twitter Blue, which costs $8 a month, if they want to keep their blue checkmark.

Needless to say, people aren’t happy about this—especially people who already have blue checks, such as the famously Twitter-loving, famously problematic William Shatner.

Still, sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your friend, right?

So what does that $8 a month get you? Well, after the initial announcement, Musk dropped another one detailing things that will only apply to “verified” users going forward. He published a tweet on March 28, saying,

“Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations. The is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle. Voting in polls will require verification for same reason.”

… except then he followed it up with, “That said, it’s ok to have verified bot accounts if they follow terms of service & don’t impersonate a human.”

So essentially, between April 1 and April 15 and almost certainly for long afterwards as well, Twitter will be a chaos zone even more bewildering than it was last time, with only random people being “verified” because they paid money, not because their identity has actually been verified, making it a fairly meaningless distinction outside of allowing people to pay for their tweets to be seen by more people. Just the kind of nonsense we needed to make the rampant spread of misinformation on April 1 even worse.

The silent threat on Twitter

An ex-Twitter employee spoke to the BBC under the condition of anonymity and made it quite clear where they believed this was heading:

“Our number one goal for my team was to protect users from real world harm and this screams the complete opposite to me.

Verified users will use their power and their presence on the platform to influence anything from misinformation to actual harm for users all around the world. It’s a silent threat that no one is seeing,”

Perhaps I could try emailing Musk himself and asking for clarification on how he plans to decrease the potential for harm and abuse here? I’d love to, but all media inquiries to Twitter are now sent back with a poop emoji. Happy birthday to me.

(featured image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.