Washington is increasingly scared of Twitter

Twitter’s underlying software is reportedly showing signs of showing signs of cracking for some users, without enough engineers to maintain it. Cyber ​​security and privacy experts fear it is becoming a “Wild West” when it comes to data breaches and vulnerabilities to hacking.

There hasn’t been a mass exodus so far: users in politics and the media are watching and waiting, and Twitter has remained largely trusted as a real-time news platform. But Schmidt says she and her colleagues are trying to determine if it’s safe for their customers to continue advertising or even stay on Twitter.

Several Washington communications veterans contacted by POLITICO have claimed versions of the same thing: Twitter must now be treated with great caution by anyone interested in their public image.

“Whether it’s a politician, a candidate or a company, they need a platform that has credibility, that is stable and that aligns with their values,” said Sean Higgins, a veteran of the communications scene. DC Policy and Associate Vice President of Precision Strategies. “So far, Twitter hasn’t demonstrated the ability to deliver any of these things under Elon Musk’s leadership, and that’s a problem.”

At the heart of the anxiety is that in just two weeks of Musk’s acquisition, Twitter has largely dismantled its previous account verification system, launching a short-lived subscription service that allowed “verified” status to anyone. willing to pay $ 8 and generating a mass of fake accounts for heads of government agencies, companies and politicians.

It has launched, canceled and relaunched a new “official” badge to designate real accounts, but it appears to be applied unevenly. So does the “Organization of the United States Government” tag, which appears on the Twitter account of the Department of Defense, but not of the White House or other crucial agencies such as FEMA.

While Twitter works to solve its content moderation problems with a small team, Higgins warned that companies and advertisers didn’t have “much patience”.

Musk said all of this attention has been good for Twitter and says it is more so says it is more popular with users that never. But what for some seems a satirical all-against-all, for others it seems the rapid unraveling of a platform that, in recent years, had become a reliable, if at times still toxic, public forum.

At the heart of Twitter’s rapid operational changes is Musk’s stated goal of “disrupting” the “information oligopoly” of the mainstream media by “raising citizen journalism” and, importantly, earning $ 8 per long-paid subscriber. path. But before that happens, the owner of the platform has to deal with the heavy real-world consequences of breaking the machine he built to ensure reliability.

Chris Riotta, a cybersecurity writer for the DC FCW federal technology commercial publication, said like this: “Elon Musk’s decision to monetize Twitter verification … marks the end of an era for social media, where Twitter users can easily confirm whether a post is trustworthy.”

The stock value of insulin maker Eli Lilly dropped dramatically after a fake tweet that his insulin was now free. And the sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Sent Musk a letter with strong words asking for an explanation after a Washington Post reporter introduced himself as the politician just to show how easy it was.

Musk typically took Markey’s critique as an opportunity to write to response to trollingtweeting: “Maybe it’s because your real account sounds like a parody?”

Markey didn’t take the answer kindly. “Repair your businesses. Or Congress will “, tweeted the senatorwarning Musk that one of his companies is subject to an FTC consent decree.

The growing pile of incidents indicates a throwback of years of efforts to transform Twitter from a frivolous chatroom for tech insiders to the most important and trusted online news feed in real time.

A struggling DC communications professional with four years of experience supporting customers in the tech industry said, “Between the controversial brand Musk has created on social media and the public’s tendency to use humor to cope with current events. , people could start to lose hopefully the problem is solvable “.

DC supporters like Tom Wheeler, a Brookings fellow and former FCC president, have already mentioned the increased regulatory risk that both Musk and Twitter face. Wheeler added that the surprise awaiting the new owner of the platform is how lawmakers and agencies that rely on Twitter for their messages will react to the “potential that such whimsical actions could impact their political brand.”

Mark MacCarthy, a senior fellow at Brookings, had a strong estimate of Twitter’s new plan to sell verification labels. He called him “stupid”. MacCarthy is an adjunct professor of communications at Georgetown and a former staff member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Skeptical that a verification “marketplace” would ever work, MacCarthy said, “Musk has to go back to the hard work of eliminating fake accounts using signals, judgment, context and intuition. Which brings some of the same people he has turned away from. ‘agency”.

Despite Musk’s own assurances earlier this week, digital advertisers seem to agree with MacCarthy. Many have withdrawn their Twitter ad spend as they await the confusion.

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