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[OPINION] Twitter: Musk we leave?

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Nov 17, 2022 5:51 pm

When news of Twitter coming under the thumb of billionaire Elon Musk hit my newsfeed, I swear I heard bomb sirens in my head, or was that Madonna’s Give me all your luvin’ played at roughly 120 decibels, courtesy of Dolby?  

Whatever that was, one thing was certain: War was coming. In no fewer than the fingers of my hands, which in Twitter time-space continuum means milliseconds, netizens were up in arms.  

Things escalated quickly after Musk demanded netizens to shell out $7.99 each month for a blue verification mark. The floodgates of critical reviews were thus opened as fake account after fake account carrying blue checks mushroomed all over Twitter’s hellholes. This bewildered netizens as to what is a verified account and what is bogus.

 

The call, therefore, to leave Twitter came as a predictable spinoff to this largely preventable disappointment. Anyone with half a brain would know that selling the blue mark is like hawking passports at a border checkpoint where everyone from Jeffrey Dhamer copycats to Hannibal Lecter wannabes are trying to make a break for it.  

It’s bad enough that social media platforms are being rewired to favor disinformation. I recall the “free insulin” case which struck Twitter recently. An account named @EliLillyandCo tweeted, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The account carried a blue check mark.  

A fake tweet sparked panic at Eli Lilly

Imagine the fireball it created, which the true Eli Lilly and Company Twitter account, @LillyPad, soon tried to put out. Some aver that this incident cost the real Eli Lilly and Company millions in plummeting stocks. 

So far, numerous cases of bogus accounts had reached the news desk of Forbes magazine, one of which impersonated a former U.S. President: “Also, a Twitter-verified account pretending to be former U.S. President George W. Bush with the handle @GeorgeWBushs that tweeted, ‘I miss killing Iraqis’ along with a sad-face emoji.’”  

A fake George W. Bush account is seen as a critique on Musk's paid verification process.

The musky, fake Bush account was done in really bad taste. 

Disturbing, for me, above all is the prospect of having someone pose as, say, a celebrated author whose photo and blue mark appear on the fake profile, paid each month at $7.99 by some rascal somewhere, but with the perturbing absence of impeccable grammar. This unwelcome intrusion into someone’s internet space could spell a career extinction event, if you ask me. 

Musk delays Twitter relaunch after fake account frenzy.

So, musk we leave Twitter?   

For many, the idea is worth considering. Why not? Other platforms prove more “peaceful” and “humane”—or so it is claimed. Twitter scantly has a monopoly on social media exchanges, to say little of a significant population made up of humans and not bots or what I call “idiobots”.  

My eldest daughter tried to convince me to pack my cyber bags and skedaddle for good. “It’s a cesspool, Pa,” she said. “You don’t want to take a dip in those crap-spangled waters.” 

I thanked her for the vote of confidence, for actually thinking I could literally swim when I could not. But then I replied, “Wouldn’t I be giving these scoundrels the chance to impersonate me after I’m gone? I mean, I wouldn’t put it past them to have already gathered people’s information, including mine.” 

One doesn’t have to be a highly-trained journalist to know that verifying information is chiefly an act of common sense.

And so, despite rigorous exchanges with my millennial son and daughter, I opted to stay. Why? Here are a few of my reasons.  

Journalism has taught me a thing or two about gathering information. First, I don’t strut around social media like I’m lost in a theme park, somewhere among its sights and sounds. At the very least, I vet information in the same manner I make sure my weekly groceries are up to snuff. I always gather data using multiple sources, and the blue check, for what it’s worth in authenticating an account, hardly impresses me at all.  

One doesn’t have to be a highly-trained journalist to know that verifying information is chiefly an act of common sense.  

Likewise, social media apps are algorithm-driven. What disinformation hawkers employ to spread their lies is also available for truthtellers to use. It’s really just a matter of learning the ropes, of learning how to gain ground by knowing when, how and what to post. “Liking” or “hearting” facts or retweeting them help in disseminating the facts.  

Lastly, an exodus would ultimately deprive Twitter of good people, people who’d risk being vilified if only to speak the truth. Easier said than done, I know, what with all the lies and threats serving as a virtual minefield. New York University professor Scott Galaway had recently foretold Twitter’s collapse “within next week,” as tweeted by entertainment correspondent @MikeSington

What better way to sink the “unsinkable” Twitter than to depopulate it, leaving it in the hands of a few but loud intellectual cretins. But then, where’s the fun in that?