Epic Games CEO rages over people making fun of Elon Musk’s Twitter Blue

Tim Sweeney particularly doesn't like it when you share a meme about laughing at Twitter Blue subscribers

Twitter Blue meme

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney had a bit of a meltdown over the weekend regarding Elon Musk’s recent removal of legacy Twitter verification.

On April 22nd, Sweeney took aim at those who were supporting the ‘#BlockTheBlue’ campaign, in which people would block accounts that paid for Twitter Blue, calling them “losers and goons.” Strangely, Sweeney — a billionaire thanks to the likes of Fortnite and Epic’s ubiquitous Unreal game development engine — then proceeded to make a reference to his high school experience. “They’re [#BlockTheBlue supporters] the cool kids from junior high who worked to exclude we nerds from cool kid events, plus the losers who joined in to gain cred,” he tweeted.

Given that Sweeney is 52, it’s unclear why he’s trying to draw parallels to actual bullies from 30-plus years ago to people who are now simply taking issue with Twitter Blue. He also got upset when people replied with a popular meme laughing at those who subscribed to Twitter Blue.

For many, the issues with Twitter Blue stem from how it’s defeated the purpose of verification by allowing any random person to just pay to acquire a checkmark. When Twitter Blue checkmarks launched last year, we quickly saw parody accounts impersonate the likes of Nintendo, Valve and even Musk himself. In the era of misinformation, verification has also been especially important to help identify the correct figures in their respective fields, be they actors, politicians, media or medical professionals. For some, “BlockTheBlue” also helps avoid Musk’s avid cult fans who viciously attack others for daring to criticize the billionaire.

Later in his thread, Sweeney went on to say that “an online community like this should be a meritocracy, where everyone has an equal chance, and merit is earned rather than anointed by a corporation.” (It’s unclear how paying for a checkmark equates to “earning” merit.)

“Then someone well-meaningly built a system for preventing impersonation through verification. But they broke the meritocracy with a policy deeming verification only for elite “noteworthy” users, while letting Twitter employees hand out verification to their friends as a perk,” Sweeney added. “At peak, friends of friends of Twitter employees were brokering verification.”

Admittedly, Sweeney does have a point in that there were issues regarding who could be verified prior to Musk’s takeover. For example, celebrities like Canada’s own Seth Rogen blasted previous CEO Jack Dorsey for the platform’s verification of “white supremacists.”

However, Sweeny would later questionably say that the “Key point is, this had NOTHING to do with verifying identity documents to prevent impersonation. They didn’t do that. Twitter employees just clicked a few buttons and you were verified.” Twitter’s own Community Notes feature quickly fact-checked this tweet by pointing out that the legacy verification system did, in fact, require identity verification like government ID or official websites that list your Twitter handle.

Sweeney was also corrected for claiming that Twitter had an “unwritten practice of using verification to condition user speech,” including un-verifying controversial Black supremacist Louis Farrakhan. Community Notes pointed out that one of the requirements for having a blue checkmark was to not have had 12-hour or 7-day lockout from your account for violating rules. In 2018, Twitter said Farrakhan broke its rules by making an anti-Semitic tweet.

It’s also interesting to see Sweeney liken the pushback against Twitter Blue to a bullying “pressure campaign,” as that’s exactly what he attempted to do through Fortnite a few years back. Amid Epic’s highly publicized battle with Apple over the latter’s App Store policies, the Fortnite developer ran a controversial ad in the game to galvanize its millions of young players to fight the iPhone maker. Elsewhere, Sweeney himself made a highly questionable comparison between the Epic-Apple dispute and the civil rights movement.

But apparently, Sweeney draws the line at those making fun of a fellow billionaire and his fans.

Source: Tim Sweeney