If a social-media check mark is what defines your sense of self-worth and relevance, you’ve got problems that Elon Musk can’t solve.
Honestly, this is the wrong read of the situation. That was demonstrated last November in a single posting: a fake-but-convincing-looking Tweet from November by "@EliLillyandCo" which announced that insulin was now free. The price of $LLY shares dropped almost 12 points over the course of a few days, shredding billions in value, and forcing Eli Lilly's corporate PR team into overdrive in order to stop the viral disinformation cycle.
For better or worse, the legacy blue check functioned as basic identity verification: Twitter would confirm the identity of the account owner (for free), and because this was the only way to get a blue check -- whether it was to Donald Trump or Beyoncé or dril -- this created transitive trust via Twitter for everyone else on the internet, as Twitter could be relied on to attest that whoever was posting from a given "famous internet account" was very likely to be the real deal.
Creating trust online (and "trust" on the internet can be quantified mathematically) is notoriously difficult, and trust is the most essential aspect of any large-scale platform. Try to imagine online shopping on the internet where it's impossible to confirm the identity of the buyer or seller, or to guarantee that your transaction was secure over the wire: e-commerce grinds to a screeching halt.
What Twitter Blue is actually doing is transforming a process that used to require accountable humans into a process built around unaccountable commerce, thus making it trivial for threat actors (including government hackers from countries like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea) to create cutouts impersonating government departments, public figures, and media outlets.
I'm sure anyone reading this can imagine the consequences of a scenario where a whistleblower wants to report something illegal, but Russian hackers have set up several fake-looking Twitter profiles that impersonate the legitimate department of some Western government, effectively flooding the zone with disinformation. Or perhaps a situation where the government of China or Iran sets up a honeypot identity on Twitter impersonating a Western media outlet in order to identify (and then arrest, torture, and execute) dissidents trying to report human rights abuses in those countries.
This is all basic espionage tradecraft, and now that "verification" is open to anyone with less than $10 to spare, all of the complaints Musk himself had about bots on Twitter are back in play -- except now he gets a cut of the proceeds. The real consequence here isn't the gnashing of teeth by the former Twitterati: it's that the cost of online impersonation -- especially by nation-state actors -- is now itself deeply problematic: dirt cheap and effectively free of consequences.
I love this so much! It put a huge smile on my face. It's damn good literary analysis, Jon! Beyond the additional features and security, I think many who use Twitter professionally will ultimately decide that paying the $8 now signifies seriousness instead of prestige, and that makes sense to me. I also think, just because something was free before, doesn't mean it should have been, or should always be. Yes, Elon profits from users being on the platform, but it obviously works the other way around too. I don't get how many of these old blue checks don't see that. *shrugs*
Don't even have a Twitter account so I don't really have a side in the whole bluetick discourse, but there do seem to be some people around arguing that journalists have some sort of moral obligation to pay for Twitter Blue? Which ignores the facts that: a) they're already indirectly paying Twitter through ad revenue and b) they're basically asking that users pay the platform for the privilege of producing content for them.
Id like to print and laminate this essay. Superb. ( Also, you just made me spend 22 bucks on the dr. Seuss book ... a portrait in human psychology). Many Thanks Mr. Kay.
The funniest part was when they noticed this analogy themselves, but not its implications.
The funniest thing I've read in months: having never read the good Dr, I'm heading to a bookstore to see what other life lessons he can teach me. On the other hand, why not just keep reading Jon?? 😅
I won't belabor the point, he said before doing so: I don't think any adult in the United States in 1961 could read that business about being kept away from the marshmallow roasts and see the starless Sneetch kids staring disconsolately from the outer darkness and not think of white-only schools, restaurants, concerts and so on. And kids would absorb the abstract moral of the story first and then, as they grew older and became aware of public affairs, be immediately disposed to be horrified at segregation. And then see its application to, say, anti-Semitism. Anyway, it's how people still seem to react, including those who say well, it's not harsh enough on the whites: https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/mentioning-racism-halts-reading-sneetches-ohio-school-rcna65774
Wow. This was the most enjoyable read of the last month for me. If you want to get my attention, just open with a Dr. Seuss quote. If you want to keep it, find an analogy with the current culture meltdown.
Well done. 😁
A splendid piece. But surely the central analogy of "The Sneetches", especially given when and where it was written, was racism in general and American racial segregation in particular.
What a great find you made here. So accurate!