Media figures, celebrities, and others lost their legacy Twitter verification badges on Thursday.
The social media platform previously provided the badges for free to people like journalists and celebrities, but now with Elon Musk at the helm, the company provides verification badges to people who pay to subscribe to Twitter Blue. Organizations can pay for verification as well. Government figures and entities now get gray verification badges.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York sounded the alarm, claiming that the new checkmark system lays the groundwork for "major potential harm" to result due to confusion about which accounts are real and which are fake.
"Jokes aside, this is setting the stage for major potential harm when a natural disaster hits and no one knows what agencies, reporters, or outlets are real. Not long ago we had major flash floods. We had to mobilize trusted info fast to save lives. Today just made that harder," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
The congresswoman was retweeting someone who shared a screenshot of a fake New York account claiming to be the city's official account.
"This is an authentic Twitter account representing the New York City Government This is the only account for @NYCGov run by New York City government," the real account tweeted on Thursday.
"No, you're not. THIS account is the only authentic Twitter account representing and run by the New York City Government," a fake account replied.
The fake account has been suspended and a gray verification badge currently appears on the city's official account.
Outspoken left-wing celebrity Bette Midler referred to Musk as a "worm," tweeting, "Elon took my blue check away! I'm unverified! After all these years and thousands of tweets and free content, this worm has the nerve to de-certify me!"
"So by revoking my blue check mark because I wouldn’t pay some arbitrary fee, someone can just be me and say a bunch of bull****. Does that mean Twitter and @elonmusk are liable for defamation or identity theft or fraud?" Alyssa Milano asked.
Even Elmo, a character from the children's program Seasame Street, lamented the loss of the verification badge.
"Elmo will miss you, little blue check mark. But don’t worry everybody, Elmo is still Elmo!" the character's account tweeted.
Elon Musk indicated that he is personally paying for Twitter Blue subscriptions for NBA player LeBron James, actor William Shatner, and author Stephen King.
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