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Elon Musk said Twitter users who impersonate others, without specifying it as a “parody” account, will be permanently suspended without a warning after a number of prominent accounts, including that of comedian Kathy Griffin, were kicked off the platform for pretending to be the billionaire and posting tweets mocking him.
Musk, the newly installed majority owner and CEO of Twitter and self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, revealed the policy in a tweet thread Sunday night. Musk tweeted, “Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.”
In a pair of follow-up tweets, Musk wrote, “Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning. This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.” He added, “Any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark.”
The hasty policy change on suspensions comes amid the chaos wrought by the seismic change in Twitter’s verification system, with the company committed to selling blue checkmarks to users willing to pay $8 a month for Twitter Blue membership. Tech and security experts have warned that Twitter’s headlong push into paid-for verification will lead to an increase in scams and a spread of disinformation on the platform.
Griffin was permanently blocked from Twitter on Sunday night after she had changed her name and picture to match Musk’s and tweeted about the midterm elections. Griffin, as Musk, tweeted, “After much spirited discussion with the females in my life. I’ve decided that voting blue for their choice is only right (They’re also sexy females, btw.) #VoteBlueToProtectWomen.”
The comedian’s suspension led to an outcry, with users accusing the billionaire of impeding free speech and being thin-skinned. “Free speech includes racism but not making fun of you,” wrote @brndxix in reply to Musk’s thread that garnered over 25,000 likes.
Compounding the issue, Musk then seemed to mock Griffin, tweeting in his replies, “Actually, she was suspended for impersonating a comedian. But if she really wants her account back, she can have it. For $8.”
Mad Men star Rich Sommer was also permanently suspended for falling foul of the new policy after adopting Musk’s username and profile photo. While pretending to be Musk, Sommer tweeted, “okay, time to employ plan b, since they’re MAKING me keep twitter. Does anyone know any advertisers who are, like, kind of ‘into racism.’ NOT ACTUAL RACISTS!! Just ad ppl who are, y’know, curious about what it’s all about (racism).”
YouTuber Ethan Klein, co-host of the popular show H3H3, also had his personal account (@h3h3productions) suspended by Twitter for impersonating Musk after testing the new policy. Klein, as Musk, had tweeted a joke about the billionaire’s alleged friendship with Jeffrey Epstein but made sure to mark clearly that his tweets were parodies and his account was a parody by changing the bio and the header. After Klein’s suspension, the H3H3 show account (@theh3podcast) tweeted, “Comedy is dead on Twitter and Elon Musk killed it.”
Sci-fi author and former pro football player Chris Kluwe (@chriswarcraft) was another among the users who were permanently suspended for impersonating Musk. Another verified user, with the handle @arb and over 50,000 followers, was also permanently suspended Sunday for impersonating Musk and tweeting a series of mocking posts including, “my wife left me.”
In response, Griffin took to Instagram, where — in two separate posts — the comedian addressed Musk’s response to her altering her Twitter name to match his own. In the first, she shares how fellow industry members and “the best friends in the world” Catherine Keener, Stephanie Koff and Rosanna Arquette stopped by her home Sunday night, “just checking up on me.”
“So I’m trending on Twitter. Long story,” Griffin wrote in the caption of a photo featuring the four of them. “Anyway I was getting lots of comments online from Elon musk cult members Then DING DONG!”
In her follow-up post, which was published Monday morning, Griffin shared an explainer video from TikTok detailing, in part, what had been happening between Musk and Griffin. “Cannot stop laughing at this!” she wrote. “Elon can’t quit me.”
Abbey White contributed to this report.
Nov. 7, 9:15 a.m. Updated story with two Instagram posts from Kathy Griffin.
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