Washington is increasingly afraid of Twitter
Twitter’s underlying software is said to show signs of showing signs of cracking for some users, without enough engineers to maintain it. Cybersecurity and privacy experts fear this is becoming a “Wild West” when it comes to data breaches and vulnerability to hacking.
So far, there has been no mass exodus – political and media users watch and wait, and Twitter has remained largely reliable as a real-time news platform. But Schmidt says she and her colleagues are trying to figure out if it’s safe for their clients to continue advertising, or even stay on Twitter.
Several Washington communications veterans contacted by POLITICO said versions of the same: Twitter should now be treated with great caution by anyone concerned about its public image.
« Whether it’s a politician, a candidate or a business, they need a platform that is credible, stable and in line with their values, » said Sean Higgins, a veteran of the DC’s political communications scene and Associate Vice President of Precision Strategies. . « So far, Twitter hasn’t demonstrated an 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 since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has largely dismantled its old account verification system, launching a short-lived subscription service that allowed status » verified” to anyone willing to pay $8 and generating a mass of bogus accounts for heads of government agencies, businesses and politicians.
It has launched, canceled and relaunched a new « official » badge to designate real accounts, but this seems to be applied unevenly. The same goes for the « United States Government Organization » tag, which appears on the Department of Defense’s Twitter account, but not the White House or other crucial agencies like FEMA.
As Twitter struggles to resolve its content moderation issues with a small team, Higgins warned that businesses and advertisers don’t have « much patience ».
Musk argued that all of this attention has been good for Twitter, and says it’s more says it is more popular among users than ever. But what looks to some like a satirical melee looks to others like the rapid collapse of a platform that had, in recent years, become a reliably vetted, if still sometimes toxic, public forum. .
At the center of Twitter’s rapid operational changes is Musk’s stated goal of « disrupting » the mainstream media’s « information oligopoly » by « elevating citizen journalism » — and, most importantly, earning $8 per month. paying subscriber along the way. But before that happens, the rig owner must face the heavy real-life consequences of breaking the machine he had built to ensure reliability.
Chris Riotta, cybersecurity writer for DC’s federal technology trade publication, FCW, explained it this way: « Elon Musk’s move to monetize verification on Twitter…marks the end of an era for social media, where Twitter users could easily confirm whether a post is trustworthy. »
The value of insulin maker Eli Lilly’s shares fell sharply after a fake tweet saying its insulin was now free. And the senator. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent Musk a strongly worded letter demanding an explanation after a Washington Post reporter impersonated the politician just to show how easy it was.
Musk typically took Markey’s criticism as an opportunity to write a lag responsetweeting: « Maybe it’s because your real account sounds like a parody?
Markey didn’t take the answer kindly. “Fix your businesses. Or Congress will,” tweeted the senatorwarning Musk that one of his companies is under an FTC consent decree.
The growing pile of incidents points to a rollback of years of effort to transform Twitter from a frivolous chat room for tech insiders into the most important real-time online newsfeed and the most reliable.
A DC crisis communications professional with four years of experience supporting clients in the tech industry said, “Between the controversial brand Musk has created for himself on social media and the public’s tendency to use humor to deal with current events, maybe people are starting to lose hope the problem will be solved.
DC stalwarts like Tom Wheeler, a guest fellow at Brookings and former FCC chairman, have previously mentioned the heightened regulatory risk Musk and Twitter face. Wheeler added that the surprise awaiting the platform’s new owner is how lawmakers and agencies who rely on Twitter for their messaging will react to « the possibility that such capricious actions could impact their political mark.
Mark MacCarthy, a senior researcher at Brookings, had a stark estimate of Twitter’s new plan to sell verification labels. He called it « stupid ». MacCarthy is an assistant professor of communications at Georgetown and a former staffer of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Skeptical that a verification ‘market’ will ever work, MacCarthy said, « Musk needs to get back to the hard work of weeding out fake accounts using signals, judgment, context and intuition. Which takes on some of the very people he kicked out of the business.
Despite assurances from Musk himself earlier this week, digital advertisers seem to agree with MacCarthy. Many cut their Twitter ad spend as they waited out the confusion.