In the last days of October, Elon Musk took control of Twitter, but he’s already accomplished so much. No, he hasn’t saved the social media service from racist and bigoted trolls. Quite the opposite. Instead, he’s implemented “bold” moves, hoping to turn the famously unprofitable joint profitable. But those plans have backfired spectacularly, and are now even hurting other businesses.
As per Fortune, on Friday the pharmaceutical company Elli Lilly became the latest victim of practical jokers exploiting — or even showing the underlying problems with — Musk’s Twitter Blue, his since put-on-pause feature, in which users can fork over a mere $8 for a coveted blue check mark. The original checks were there to verify the veracity of accounts belonging to celebrities, journalists, and other public figures. But the new one has perhaps inevitably led to a rash of impersonators. Some of them were satirical. Whoever created one faux-Elli Lilly account sure was.
Did Twitter Blue tweet just cost Eli Lilly $LLY billions?
— Rafael Shimunov is on Mastodon (@rafaelshimunov) November 11, 2022
“We are excited to announce insulin is free now,” said the ersatz account, which bore the name and avatar of the one for the real Elli Lilly.
It might have been a joke — a dark, angry joke about what pharmaceutical companies charge those with diabetes just to survive — but it had real life consequences. No, Elli Lilly didn’t actually announce insulin was now free of charge. Instead, hours after the post, the company’s stock plummeted.
Something similar happened to the weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, when a joke account claimed they were “halting all weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States until further investigation into their record of human rights abuses.” Their stocks, too, sank.
Lockheed Martin stock is down more than 5% a day after a Twitter Blue-verified account impersonated the defense company and said it was halting sales to certain countries, including the U.S.
— David Slotnick firstname.lastname@example.org (@David_Slotnick) November 11, 2022
In other words, what was supposed to make Twitter profitable may doom it to financial peril.