The latest episode of the Zuck versus Elon saga has taken a less savory turn, and interestingly, it seems like Elon’s own changes to Twitter’s verification system have caused at least part of the misunderstanding in this case.
Pre-warning: This post deals with some NSFW references made by Elon, so if you’re likely to be offended, best to click away now and avoid potentially harmful mental images. In fact, that warning applies to all readers - it’s not good areas to be venturing into.
So, following the launch of Threads, Meta’s new Twitter-esque social app, Elon’s been taking subtle jabs at Zuckerberg, continuing their ongoing public feud. Which still may or may not result in a UFC-style cage match between the two mega-billionaires – but in the latest development, Elon has actually challenged Zuck to another form of contest:
I propose a literal dick measuring contest ????— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2023
Yep, that’s a legitimate tweet, from somebody whom a lot of people consider to be one of the smartest people on the planet, and who’s without doubt one of the richest.
So where did Elon come up with this notion?
It actually seems to have stemmed from this tweet, which Elon responded to shortly before issuing his challenge to Zuckerberg, and includes a doctored screenshot from Threads referencing another, separate insult from Elon (that 'Zuck is a cuck').
Zuck responds to the cuck allegations ???? pic.twitter.com/7VSwyKsuzQ— Sir Doge of the Coin ⚔️ (@dogeofficialceo) July 9, 2023
That’s not an actual comment from Zuck – and as you can see, the screenshot also includes an image of Elon Musk’s profile pic, suggesting that he also has a Threads account (or an imposter using his image). But for whatever reason, Elon seems to have taken this as somewhat legit, or it got his mind racing either way, which has then led to his mentally scarring appendage challenge.
And as noted, at least part of what’s at play here is confusion around blue tick accounts, which used to only be allocated to noteworthy users, and people who could generally be trusted to only share legitimate, researched comments, to a large degree. There were some flaws in this system, granted, but amid the ongoing back and forth, in this case, and in many other debates, it’s getting harder and harder to know who to trust in the app, because now, the blue checkmark is meaningless in this context. And for some, that’s proving to be a habitual marker that’s difficult to shake.
To be clear, I don’t think that Elon actually believes that Zuckerberg posted this comment. But then again, he’s taking this information from an account that he does trust, and engages with regularly, which also has a blue checkmark. It’s probably foolish to assume that we might have any understanding of what’s going on in Elon’s head – but he has repeatedly engaged with content from blue tick accounts that are actually fake or parody presences.
Indeed, as T(w)itter News Daily recently pointed out (note: non-Twitter accounts aren’t allowed to include ‘Twitter’ in their profile name, hence the odd moniker, but it’s actually a good source of Twitter 2.0 news), many parody accounts on Twitter are actually causing confusion, because the self-appended ‘parody’ tag is being cut off from the username in-stream.
for example, recently many Pakistani Twitter users believed that Elon had tuned in for this space with Imran Khan - it was actually the parody account, but the "(Parody)" in the username was cut off in the Spaces view. pic.twitter.com/K1TWmw8Xnk— T(w)itter Daily News (@TitterDaily) July 8, 2023
Elon responded to this, noting that:
If the word “parody” is literally in the account name, then I think one cannot blame the account— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2023
But it’s a relevant point – Twitter’s decision to re-structure the verification program has caused a whole new vector for misunderstanding in the app, which is hurting its value as a news and information source.
Which, of course, is also now the same on Meta, where users can also buy a blue tick. The decision to sell verification markers makes no sense in this regard, and will continue to cause confusion - until users become so skeptical that they question everything that they see, in every social app.
Which, in the long run, may not necessarily be a bad thing – but till we get to that stage, there will continue to be misinterpretations and misunderstandings, leading to people sharing false reports, joke tweets, and everything in between, thinking that it’s actually legit info.
It just seems like a self-own, that could have been totally avoided - but then again, as noted, maybe Elon knew this was fake all along and just wanted an excuse to issue such a challenge.
I don’t know, but I do know that the tweet stream is becoming less trustworthy every day.