Twitter CEO Elon Musk has said that any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearlying “parody” will be “permanently suspended“.
“Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning,” he tweeted on Sunday night.
He said any name change would result in the temporary loss of a verified checkmark.
On Sunday evening several accounts that had changed their name to Elon Musk or approximations of Elon Musk appeared to be suspended or placed behind a warning sign, including those of US comedian Kathy Griffin and Australian satirical website the Chaser.
Musk had previously said he opposed permanent bans on Twitter.
Appearing to defend his sweeping bans, Musk tweeted that he was still committed to free speech, and would continue to allow the account that flags his movements to remain online.
The latest storm comes amid reported uncertainty around Twitter’s planned rollout of verification checks for a monthly fee of $7.99, which is a feature of its paid-for Twitter Blue service.
The New York Times reported the new feature would be delayed until after the US midterm elections, amid users could buy verification, pretend to be a political figure and then sow electoral confusion.
Engineering at Twitter are rolling new features at breakneck speed, amid the chaos and distress caused by reports of the summary dismissal of half of Twitter’s 7,500-strong workforce.
There were reports on Sunday night that dozens who had been laid off had been asked to return as they were either laid off by mistake or the company had since realised their work was vital to build the new features Musk is seeking.
He acquired Twitter at the end of last month for $44bn, in a deal backed by billions of his own money. The entrepreneur has now set up a war room in the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, where he and a small team of advisers are scrambling to save costs and push out new products.
The first of these was Twitter Blue, rolled out in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
On the topic of previously banned accounts, Musk last week said they will not be allowed back onto Twitter until the social media platform has “a clear process for doing so”.
Creating such a process would take at least a few more weeks, Musk had tweeted, giving more clarity about the potential return of Twitter’s most famous banned user, former US president Donald Trump. The new timeline implies Trump will not return in time for the midterm elections on 8 November.