Twitter chaos after wave of blue tick imitations

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Twitter chaos after wave of blue tick imitations

A wave of new paid blue-tick accounts posing as influential individuals and brands has sparked chaos and chaos on Twitter.

On Thursday, fake “verified” accounts in the names of politicians, celebrities, major organizations and businesses began appearing on the platform.

Twitter suspended many of them, but the company’s attempts to make swift changes to fix the issue added to the confusion.

Experts have previously warned that the new Twitter Blue subscription service announced by new chief executive Elon Musk, which allows users to pay £6.99 ($7.99) a month for blue ticks, will be immediately exploited by bad actors and scammers and Undermining people’s trust in Twitter. platform.

The extent of the new fake blue check account problem was laid bare after the feature rolled out on Wednesday.

Blue tick versions of major brand accounts like Apple, Nintendo, BP, and Chiquita have been suspended. Fake accounts posing as high-profile figures .

In one case, an account for Arizona Gov. Carrie Lake’s Republican candidate announced on Twitter that she was conceding to her Democratic opponent, despite the fact that votes were still in a tight race. It took Twitter several hours to delete the tweet and the fake account.

A fake Tesla account at another company owned by Mr. Musk joked about 9/11, while Musk himself was impersonated.

One of the most damaging accounts impersonates US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and declares that “insulin is now free”.

The company had to distance itself from false announcements.

The paid blue tick system has also been exploited by conspiracy theorists and far-right activists.

The BBC has seen at least three well-known QAnon influencer accounts buy blue tick marks on Twitter.

Far-right activists Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer, who organized the 2017 United the Right rally in Charlottesville, both bought blue ticks.

Twitter had previously removed the verification badges from the accounts of Mr Kessler and Mr Spencer following violent rallies five years ago.

The researchers also found various accounts buying blue ticks using AI-generated images of fake people. This is a particular area of ​​concern, as such inauthentic accounts are often used for influence operations, sometimes by foreign countries in order to influence political events in other countries.

Twitter has suspended many blue-tick imposter accounts, but has sometimes struggled to keep up with new ones popping up.

New gray “official” badges were added under the handles of some high-profile accounts, which were then almost immediately scrapped by Mr Musk.

However, the new gray official badge started reappearing on some Twitter profiles on Friday.

Some US users reported that they could no longer use the Twitter Blue subscription system.

Musk himself initially said blue-tick parody accounts of high-profile users had to clarify that the content in their bios was not real.

He later announced that the word parody would also need to be included in the account title, adding that “tricking people is not okay”.

As of right now, it’s unclear how Musk and his newly acquired platform plan to tackle the Blue Tick counterfeiting problem in the long run.

While issues of verified accounts temporarily changing their names in potentially misleading ways have surfaced on the platform before, such attempts are extremely rare.

Experts fear the damage done by a lack of trust in Twitter’s verification system, which is often used by local authorities, police, emergency services and journalists, could be highlighted during events such as mass shootings, terrorist raid or natural disasters. Twitter for accurate information. information and advice.

The BBC reached out to Twitter for comment but did not receive a response.


By Marianna Spring, Disinformation and Social Media Reporter

The many parody accounts popping up on Twitter these days seem like a lot of fun. But it’s important to remember that when people don’t know who and what to trust, it can pose serious risks.

Throughout the pandemic, recent conflicts, and elections — we’ve been reminded time and time again of the real-world harm that online mistakes can do.

Now, bad actors can use the blue tick to lend legitimacy to the disinformation they promote — or confuse users.

The blue tick marks have become a handy tool for identifying official accounts, so it’s no surprise – at least at first – that this creates confusion. Especially since it happened at the same time as other messy changes.

Now that the blue ticks can become meaningless, users will have to rely on other tools to see if an account is really who they say they are.

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