Replica brands

Hack or hoax? Twitter verification mess leaves brands open to abuse

With the back-and-forth changes to Twitter verification and the increase in spoofing, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the real posts from the fake ones.

Changes to Twitter’s verification system have already caused a wave of problems, with people paying to impersonate brands, celebrities and politicians.

After taking over Twitter, Elon Musk announced plans to shake up the platform’s blue tick system and charge users $8 a month to get that verified status.

Esther Crawford, head of early-stage products at Twitter, recently tweeted that this new Twitter Blue “does not include identity verification”, but rather is a paid subscription that offers a blue tick “and access to certain features”.

Unfortunately, this has caused a rise in fake accounts impersonating legitimate users and posting misinformation on their behalf.

Some of the most notable include a user impersonating pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and tweeting that insulin is “now free”. The real Eli Lilly account replied on Twitterapologizing for the misleading message and linking back to his real account.

Another person used the new subscription system to get verified as a Nintendo US Twitter account. This impersonation account then posted several offensive images and videos.

The platform attempted to distinguish previously verified accounts from new subscribers to the Twitter Blue service with a gray checkmark indicating that certain accounts are “official”.

This new label has been affixed to many leading brands and media. However, those checks were undone within hours, with Musk tweeting “I just killed him.”

To add to the confusion, the gray check apparently returned today (November 11) and is reappearing on the profiles of some high-profile brands and public figures.

It’s time to be careful

The current upheaval around Twitter has been noticed by various brands and media groups. US media group NPR has shared advice with its staff, says Semafor editor Ben Smith, advising them not to advertise on their Twitter account. However, the NPR team has also been told not to delete their accounts because “someone could take your handle and impersonate you.”

The changes to Twitter’s verification come amid recent mass layoffs across its global workforce, with reports that around half of the company’s 7,500 employees have been laid off.

A wave of top executives resigned after Musk’s takeover, including trust and security chief Yoel Roth.

Roth had become a public figure at the company since the Musk takeover, posting several threads on the platform to explain feature updates to users.

The increase in the number of accounts posing as businesses could impact Twitter’s ad revenue, which has already been impacted by the takeover. Companies such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Audi and Pfizer recently suspended advertising on Twitter, Insider reports.

Try to spot impersonating accounts

Twitter users can view an account originally verified against one that paid $8 for verification by clicking the checkmark next to the user’s handle.

This will explain if the account was verified through the original Twitter method, or if its blue tick is due to the Twitter Blue subscription.

However, this method has its own set of problems as some previously verified accounts are now paying for Twitter Blue. musk too tweeted that the old blue ticks could be removed entirely in the coming months, as too many “corrupt” ticks exist on the platform.

When in doubt, the best way to find a brand’s legitimate Twitter account is to check the social media links on the company’s websites.

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