Kathy Griffin Suspended from Twitter After Parodying Elon Musk, Uses Dead Mother’s Account to Return

Musk, the new owner of Twitter, announced permanent suspensions of people who parody public figures without clarifying their parody.
Kathy Griffin, Elon Musk
Getty Images/David Livingston/Taylor Hill

Elon Musk has only owned Twitter for a little over a week, but the billionaire is already making new enemies on the social media site.

On Sunday, comedian Kathy Griffin was banned from Twitter after she changed her display name and profile picture to match Musk’s, and wrote several satirical tweets mocking the Tesla and Space X CEO. The “impersonation” was paper-thin — her handle remained @kathygriffin and could be seen on all her tweets — but the suspension was accompanied by a tweet from Musk stating that “any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.”

While the general policy against impersonation has already been a part of Twitter’s rules and policies for users, immediate action against offenders is new. The policy also goes against Musk’s previous statements that he is a “free speech absolutist,” and his apparent plans to reduce moderation of content on the app.

Hours after she was banned, Griffin returned to Twitter by using the account of her late mother Maggie Griffin. Maggie, starred with her daughter in “My Life on the D-List” and other projects, died in March 2020. Griffin used the account to reply to several of Musk’s tweets with the hashtag #freeKathy, which celebrities such as Mark Hamill began spreading. She also responded to users like conservative journalist Andy Ngô who criticized her for using her dead mother’s account by telling them “she would be with me on this.”

Griffin and Musk’s very public spat is the latest in a series of bad press for the latter, whose acquisition of Twitter has been rife with controversy. In addition to layoffs of Twitter employees, Musk has also initiated a plan to make verification — the blue check mark that signifies an account belongs to a public figure or organization — accessible to those who pay a monthly $8 fee for the Twitter Blue tier of the service. The plan faced widespread backlash from those who feared it would help spread misinformation on the platform, and Griffin’s parody tweets of Musk were partly to bring attention to the issue.

Griffin wasn’t the only prominent celebrity to troll Musk via impersonation during the weekend — Sarah Silverman and Valerie Bertinelli also changed their profile icons and display names to mock the CEO on Friday and Saturday. So far, the only other notable figure to have been suspended for impersonating Musk seems to be actor and podcast host Griffin Newman, even though he followed Musk’s apparent rules and marked his account as a parody.

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