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bitchy | Elon Musk’s Twitter Blue allowed someone to tank a pharma company’s stock for $8


When Elon Musk bought Twitter, he became bizarrely focused on monetizing users, meaning he wanted to flip Twitter’s business model on its head. The reason why Twitter was successful is the same reason why other social media platforms are successful: they’re free to use, with the understanding that with a free platform, you’re going to be force-fed advertising on the platform. Ad revenue was always how Twitter made the bulk of their money. Musk ruined that because he couldn’t even give advertisers a baseline assurance that Twitter dot com was not going to turn into a Nazi hellsite on his watch. Then Musk did something even stupider: he ended Twitter’s existing verification process so that anyone could buy “verification” for the grand fee of $8. One person – whose identity is still unknown – forked over $8 and created the handle @EliLillyandCo, and proceeded to tweet “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The real Eli Lilly – the pharma company which uses @LillyPad, had to tweet out that no, insulin is not free and they’re going to continue to price-gouge diabetics for kicks.

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly clarified Thursday it is not offering free insulin, after a fake Twitter account—which was verified through Twitter Blue, a new subscription service implemented by Elon Musk— impersonating the brand said it was, a sign the new feature is causing confusion and misinformation to spread on the platform.

Twitter Blue launched Wednesday, giving any users who pay $8 a month the ability to be verified on the site, a feature previously only available to public figures, government officials and journalists as a way to show they are who they claim to be.

On Thursday, an account with the handle @EliLillyandCo labeled itself with the name “Eli Lilly and Company,” and by using the same logo as the company in its profile picture and with the verification checkmark, was indistinguishable from the real company (the picture has since been removed and the account has labeled itself as a parody profile). The parody account tweeted “we are excited to announce insulin is free now.”

Roughly two and a half hours later, the actual Eli Lilly corporate account tweeted apologizing “to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account,” and confirmed its real handle is @Lillypad.

Users who click on a profile’s check mark can see if they were verified through Twitter Blue or for being a public figure, though Musk said Thursday that “legacy” accounts will no longer be verified in the coming months, and only those who subscribe to Twitter Blue will be.

[From Forbes]

What’s absolutely incredible about this is not just that a parody account got verified and led to a massive public relations snafu for a pharma company which is already in (well-deserved) hot water over their price-gouging insulin costs. What’s incredible is that for $8, this Twitter parody account tanked Eli Lilly’s stock by the close of markets on Friday. Eli Lilly lost billions (on paper).

What could have been a somewhat anarchistic feel-good moment of the “little guy” tanking a pharma company for $8 turned into something else entirely though. Elon Musk can’t actually decide what he wants to be, because $44 billion apparently can’t buy him a personality. If I was in Musk’s position (perish the thought), I would have leaned into it and said “well, Eli Lilly shouldn’t price-gouge on insulin, Twitter is anarchy, let’s f–k some sh-t up.” Instead, Musk… sided with the price-gouging pharma company and argued to Bernie Sanders that companies should charge exorbitant rates for sh-t like insulin.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.


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