‘True Blood’ Actor Rob Kazinsky Says Selling Twitter Blue Checks Will Let ‘Utter Scumbags’ Prey on ‘Children and the Vulnerable’

Kazinsky reveals a horrifying instance when he learned predators were impersonating him

Rob Kazinsky

Among the many, many critics of Elon Musk’s widely derided plan to stop Twitter verification — popularly known as “blue check status” — and replace it with an $8-per-month subscription plan open to all users is actor Rob Kazinsky.

And in a rare tweet thread on Wednesday, the “True Blood” and “Eastenders” star shared a story from his own life that illustrates what the actual purpose of verification is. In it, he argued that “verification is a public service,” and said that replacing it with an open-to-anyone subscription plan will make Twitter a much more dangerous place where “scumbags” prey on “children and the vulnerable.”

Musk’s plan, which became public this week, originally would have charged users $20 to have a blue check next to their name. After pushback, Musk lowered that amount to $8, and continues to insist he needs to do this in order to pay the bills, despite being the richest person in history.

Musk’s whole scheme seems to be based on a misunderstanding of what a blue check means, repeating right wing extremist claims that it is a status symbol and nothing more. But as a great many people have pointed out, verification just means that account holder has some kind of public relevance and that Twitter has confirmed they aren’t lying about their identity. This mainly stymies imposters and identity theft, and otherwise confers few special abilities or privileges. Read more about it here.

That proof of identity isn’t just for the user themselves. It also protects other people who might be duped by imposters, as Kazinsky explained Wednesday.

“Years ago, before verified accounts were a thing, back when I was on Eastenders, I was contacted multiple times by parents of children who had been “conversing” with me online. 11-15 year old children that had been talking with a fake me. I was informed one of these children went missing,” he said.

Kazinky explained that at the time this happened, sometime between 2006 and 2009, he wasn’t on social media and “didn’t understand” what he said was “a horror show.”

“For years people pushed for some way, to root out the fakes. There was a phase, if you remember, of people posting images of themselves with their URL. I did that on every site I could find, Facebook, myspace, Bebo, anything,” he continued.

“I felt powerless to stop people using my name and face to scam or groom people. That’s why verification came to be. Because it was important to protect people. It wasn’t for clout, or for leveraging money from a platform. It was to protect people from utter scumbags,” he said.

Kazinsky said he isn’t very active on social media and doesn’t particularly like the internet, and that his Twitter account “exists so that fake accounts can’t.”

He argued that if verification is removed from Twitter, it removes “that simple ability to protect people, to protect children with verification,” which he said would make Twitter “dead in the water.”

“I hope someone is explaining to @elonmusk the actual dangers to children and the vulnerable and why removing that protection, is an action that will lead directly to a child being endangered,” he continued.

“Verification is a public service, it is a good deed performed by companies who contribute very little good to the world in my opinion. We should be making easier clearer paths to verification for everyone, not making it harder. It is their responsibility, not a business model,” Kazinsky concluded.

Read his full commentary below.