Excitement about blue tick: Musk fights Twitter feud with Senator

Eight euros.

Excitement about blue tick: Musk fights Twitter feud with Senator

Eight euros. That's all it took to create a verified account on Twitter. But since the new function was used for practical jokes on the short message service, the company is suspending the subscription model for the time being. It's too late for US Senator Ed Markey. He threatens Elon Musk.

The new Twitter owner Elon Musk received a sharp warning from an influential US senator after the chaos surrounding fake accounts that looked deceptively real. "Get your companies in order. Or Congress will do it," Democrat Ed Markey wrote on Twitter after a verbal exchange with Musk.

The trigger for the dispute was an experiment by the Washington Post. A journalist from the newspaper managed to create a fake account for the senator, which was provided with a verification tick. This was made possible with the new procedure, in which the verification signs previously awarded to celebrities, politicians and companies after an examination are to be given to all users who pay eight dollars a month as a subscription fee. There is no identity check. The tick symbol looks the same in both cases. Only when you click on it is an explanatory text displayed, whether the account got the tick because of its importance - or because the user paid for it.

Musk had said that from his point of view, authentication through payment services and app platforms should protect against misuse of the new system. But it didn't stop many users from spending $8 to set up fake celebrity and corporate accounts with verification ticks. It hit sports stars, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and the fruit specialist Chiquita, among others.

Twitter suspended the subscription function for the weekend. It is not expected to be activated again until the end of the week, Musk wrote on Twitter. However, checkmarks that have already been assigned in this way are still displayed. The "Washington Post" created a fake account for Markey with a subscription payment, including a verification tick, while the senator has long had official profiles on the service. Worse, at least the smartphone app said the fake account had been verified to be meaningful. It was no longer distinguishable from the real thing.

Markey then accused Musk of making Twitter a "social media wild west" by making "rapid and indiscriminate" changes to the platform. "This is unacceptable," Markey wrote, demanding explanations from Musk about the verification system. Musk defiantly responded on Twitter: "Maybe it's because her real account comes off as a parody?"

Markey then reminded him that Twitter had to make commitments to the powerful consumer protection agency FTC and that Musk-led electric car maker Tesla was being investigated by the NHTSA for fatalities. The Senate can summon company bosses to hearings. After the recent parliamentary elections, it is already foreseeable that the Democrats will retain control of the Congress Chamber.