And yet, some high-profile impersonators stayed on the platform for hours or even days, flouting Musk’s rules by having no “parody” in their username. Tweets are becoming increasingly popular, increasing the danger to the Twitter brand in the eyes of advertisers.
Let’s look at some of the accounts that are still open, at the time of writing:
An account parodying Ohio Governor Mike Dewine also managed to evade a ban, despite his ten hour old tweet with more than 2,000 retweets announcing the governor’s plan to “eradicate the people of Columbus”.
To be clear, Twitter is crack down on certain accounts. While this article was being written, an account posing as Senator Chuck Grassley was suspended, although it took almost an entire day for one of his tweets to garner tens of thousands of likes. It was a similar situation with a fake Donald Trump account, which had several tweets with tens of thousands of likes and one with over 10,000 retweets, and didn’t mark itself as a parody anywhere.
Still, it’s bad for Twitter that these tweets have stuck around for so long, especially those from fake brands. Currently, the company relies on advertising as its primary source of revenue. And advertisers have shown they’re not big fans of a platform that lets people impersonate them convincingly. There have been several very dangerous viral tweets for the brand – perhaps one of the most infamous was someone impersonating the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, announcing that insulin was free.
The company’s official account later posted an apology that people were duped by the forger. Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin, which had his own impostorhave seen dramatic falls in their stock prices Friday, though it’s impossible to say for sure if the tweets were even partially responsible.
Thursday, Musk replied to someone talking about fake messages from Nintendo and President Joe Biden with two laughing emojis, as shown this amazing compilation of impersonators (most of which have since been banned, per Twitter policy). I doubt he laughs much today, though; Omnicom, one of the world’s largest advertising companies with clients including Apple, PepsiCo and McDonalds, issued a memo advising its clients to take a break from advertising with Twitter.
Musk has since said that Twitter will “add a ‘Parody’ hint to clarify,” but it’s unclear if accounts will have to mark themselves as parodies, or if Twitter itself will make that decision.