Column: Remaining vigilant on Twitter as platform devolves

Sam Nowotnik, Staff Writer

In recent weeks, Twitter hasn’t been able to keep out of the headlines. Whether it’s new regulations, safety issues, large amounts of staff being laid off, or talk about the new Chief Executive of Twitter, Elon Musk, it’s everywhere. 

After months of talk and uncertainty, the acquisition of Twitter finally came to an end when Musk’s status in Twitter became official.

Social media has never been perfect and there are always efforts to keep the online environment safe and fun, but Twitter recently seems to have lost all control of this.

Restrictions on Twitter have never been looser, with old accounts that were banned being allowed to join the platform again and the majority of selective censorship being removed. This causes concern for anyone on the platform and is the reason why certain videos and pictures that should never be circulating on the internet are found on Twitter and not on any other platforms.

Another new addition to Twitter that caused an uproar of opinions was the new blue check verification plan.

The blue checkmark on Twitter indicates there have been additional steps to verify the account is owned by the individual or group running it. The mark helped prevent the impersonation of public figures, and other users could trust the tweets were really coming from that person or organization. 

Now, anyone is able to purchase a blue check mark through a subscription to “Twitter Blue.”

Fake accounts are at an all-time high and only increasing. The messages being posted by these fake accounts are deceptive, as people see the blue check mark and assume they are legit. The messages range from funny to deeply problematic, and have already had a real-world impact. 

To me, this was reminiscent of phishing emails sent to college students. I have received many fake emails for internships and have been sent links that look very official coming from people impersonating teachers or managers of businesses.

Now on Twitter, trolls and scammers are using the guise of the blue check mark to spread misinformation and gain peoples’ trust. 

The online chaos with Musk taking over Twitter has extended to their physical offices and employees as well.

Over the course of the last month, there have been mass layoffs of employees causing people to lash out at Musk. There have also been questions arising as Musk advocates for free speech on his platform while firing any employees talking negatively about him.

Workers who have posted tweets he disliked or sent messages in Slack talking about him have all been fired immediately with no warning before the action was taken.

Musk’s goals or plan for the platform are unclear. I’m not sure how long this whole thing will last, but Musk seems to be enjoying making a mess, and making headlines while doing so. 

Overall, social media is still the place where you can catch up with friends, connect with new people, share ideas and share your opinions.

The evolution of social media platforms that many young people have grown up on is something we will have to contend with, and need to remain vigilant of.

With the holidays coming up and Black Friday deals being advertised like crazy, make sure you know what is authentic and what is not because not everything you see on social media is real.