Mark Ruffalo is urging Elon Musk to change his approach to running Twitter after a week of upheaval at the social media company that has seen layoffs, advertisers suspending ad spending and fears over a new subscription plan that will reshape the platform’s verification tool.
Saturday and Sunday in another series of tweets I know this is true the actress directly engaged Musk after US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s accusation that the platform had “bricked” her profile. He tweeted that it followed his criticism of Musk’s plans to open up the site’s Twitter verification tool — a “blue check” token for anyone willing to pay $8 a month for a Twitter Blue subscription.
“Elon. Please – for the love of decency – get off Twitter, hand the keys to someone who does this for real, and keep driving Tesla and SpaceX.” Ruffalo said in a quote tweet Ocasio-Cortez’s claim on Saturday. “You’re destroying your credibility. It’s just not a good look.”
Debate over how the platform handles free speech issues — specifically, curbing hate speech and criticism of Twitter’s new owner — has intensified in the week since he officially took over the site. Since then, Musk has fired key executives and laid off thousands of workers around the world just days before the 2022 midterm elections. Included are members of the Human Rights, Accessibility, AI Ethics, Communications and Curation teams who tweeted about their layoffs on Friday, TechCrunch reported.
In response to Ruffalo’s tweet, Musk responded that “not everything AOC says is 💯 true.” (The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Twitter for comment.)
While Ruffalo responded with “maybe so,” the actor noted that recent glitches in the platform and changes to certain features like authentication make it harder to detect. “That’s why strong filters for dis/misinformation and credible verified users have been a popular feature among people and advertisers,” he said. “We need these safeguards to make sure the information is correct, or the app will lose credibility, just like you. And people will leave.”
Musk’s proposed Twitter Blue verification plan is known to allow anyone paying $8 a month to buy a verification token without having to verify that their identity matches the one associated with their account. In 2009, former MLB player and then St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter over his claim that someone registered his name and started posting offensive comments.
Last week, Pacific Rim and The Gray Man actor Rob Kazinksy expressed concern about how someone could impersonate the actor – as he says someone in the past – to have contact with minors through the platform. (The actor, who didn’t say exactly which platform this was connected to, said he didn’t have social media at the time and that one of the kids allegedly contacted by someone impersonating him went missing.)
On Sunday, Musk also addressed the issue of impersonation after several actors with verified accounts changed their profile names to his own in an attempt to highlight how ordinary Twitter users could potentially be confused or manipulated by the platform’s upcoming verification extension. Actors impersonating Musk to do this thing, too Hot in Cleveland and One day at a time Valerie Bertinelli – who was trending as a result – Roswell and Night shift star Brendan Fehr and comedian and actress Kathy Griffin, whose account is currently off stream.
“Going forward, all Twitter handles that engage in impersonation without clear ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” Musk tweeted.
In his tweet, Musk noted that in the past, users received warnings about impersonation before their accounts were suspended. He now suggests that this practice no longer be valid, but that all name changes be reviewed. “We used to give a warning before suspending, but now that we are implementing extensive security, there will be no warning,” he said. “Any name change will cause the temporary confirmed checkmark to disappear.”
In Fehr’s response to the account being suspended early Sunday, he confirmed he had changed his name back before adding: “Don’t worry, he’s still totally fine with people tweeting lies and irresponsible conspiracies, so it’s all fine and dandy.”
Users, former employees and advertisers have also expressed concerns in the days leading up to the layoffs and since, how the company’s massive loss of employees would affect the usability and security of the platform. On Friday, Musk tweeted about Twitter’s “massive drop in revenue” and claimed it was due to “pressure on advertisers from activist groups, although nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease activists.” (Advertising accounted for 89 percent of Twitter’s revenue last year.)
1st of November Politico reported that IPG’s Mediabrands, one of the top four advertising firms, advised clients to suspend their Twitter ads. In response to a Nov. 4 tweet suggesting these companies be “named and shamed,” Musk tweeted, “Nuclear name and shame is exactly what will happen if this continues.”
On Sunday, Ruffalo responded to Musk, writing, “Those guys are protecting their brands and customers from the misinformation and bigotry that the fired people protected us from. You’re wiping out any way we can protect ourselves from fake accounts. It’s just smart business. Don’t go ‘Thermal Nuclear’ on us,” the lead tweet.
Updated at 4:23 p.m. Sunday, November 6: Musk’s tweet added.
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