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Musk and Markey

November 14, 2022

When I wrote hopefully about the possibility that Musk would create cheap, verified identities, I was anticipating that he would do something hard and valuable, putting in place a process that actually verified identity, paid for by his new blue check fee. It’s easy to imagine an initial and automated process: check that the credit card provided to pay the fee has the same name as being requested, verify that it isn’t a business card, validate the monthly charge, then mail — by USPS — the account’s initial password to the credit card’s billing address. The hard part will be all the ways something like that doesn’t quite work. I suspect, inevitably, it will have to have some manual backstop. That likely can be made as exceptional as the manual backstop to Amazon purchases.

Instead, Musk rolled out a mechanism to impersonate. Senator Ed Markey is pissed. Not at all what I was anticipating.

Well, many a new business direction starts out flailing and nonetheless pulls things out of the fire. Many more crash and burn. I’m not making any predictions — just watching the show, with everyone else. Seth Abramson explains that successful social platforms are hard to create, and that their cultural momentum gives them an importance beyond current management.

Any libertarian upset that Markey would threaten Musk’s companies should keep in mind that Musk became wealthy in part by making good use of the corporate structure. Which is granted by the state, purposely to provide a powerful social mechanism to entrepreneurs and investors. State-free corporations are like gold-shitting unicorns, found in the libertopias untethered to reality.

Update: Unsurprisingly, Twitter engineers warned Musk what would happen without any actual verification of identity in place.

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