On Sunday, billionaire Elon Musk openly mocked progressive Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) after the senator had demanded answers about the changes to Twitter’s verification system under Musk’s new leadership.
As reported by Axios, Markey tweeted on Friday that he was “asking for answers from [Elon Musk],” who Markey accused of “putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation.” Musk replied to the senator on Sunday, rhetorically asking “Perhaps it is because your real account sounds like a parody?”
He then mocked the senator further by asking him “And why does your pp [profile picture] have a mask!?”
Markey, ignoring Musk’s joke, claimed that “One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people.” Markey never clarified to which companies he was referring.
The senator then concluded with a threat: “And you’re spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”
The exchange came after a reporter for the Washington Post created a fake account to impersonate Senator Markey, with the senator’s permission; after paying the $8 monthly fee, the account received the blue checkmark ostensibly “verifying” him as the real senator.
Following his purchase of Twitter for $44 billion, one of the first changes Musk had announced was the plan to charge users on a monthly basis for verification, a status that was previously difficult to achieve, with no clear criteria and sometimes denied to users based on their conservative political beliefs. However, Musk halted the new pay-to-verify program, known as Twitter Blue, on Thursday due to the rapid increase in impersonation accounts.
“Allowing an imposter to impersonate a U.S. Senator on Twitter is a serious matter that you need to address promptly,” Markey wrote in a letter to Musk following the incident.
Musk’s purchase of Twitter has rocked the business world, and particularly the world of Big Tech, as the world’s wealthiest man has vowed to reverse years of far-left censorship on the platform and return the website to a pro-free speech stance.