Twitter Blue’s New Verification / Not Verification Scheme Widely Abused On Day One
from the will-the-real-elon-musk-please-bluecheck dept
Look, when it was revealed that Elon Musk’s first big plan was to make blue checks available for purchase for $8 a month, some of us quickly pointed out that the blue checks weren’t supposed to be about status, but about verification that someone is who they say they are. And, that’s kind of important. It came about because celebrities felt uncomfortable using the site while there were tons of impersonators, and advertisers were less interested in advertising next to questionable content.
But… Musk is gonna Musk, and the plan rolled out on Wednesday, along with the rapidly changing gray check system that sorta, but not really replaces some of the blue check system while the blue checks become available for everyone (don’t worry, you don’t need to follow).
Anyway, tons of people, both experts and those with just basic common sense, pointed out that opening up the blue checks to anyone with $8 to burn was going to lead to abuse, impersonation, and scams. Musk and his reliable group of yes men, however, insisted that it would somehow… get rid of all that? He keeps trying to argue that since such accounts will get shut down, it won’t be worth it to people. But $8 is not much to pay for someone looking to do something nefarious (or funny). And it sure looks like Twitter isn’t set up to make sure that these aren’t being abused.
Yesterday, we highlighted one account that was pretending to be Twitter and pushing some sort of crypto scam:
And, on Wednesday, tons of people started impersonating famous people and famous brands. Just for the hell of it. The funniest one I saw was a fake Rudy Giuliani (the account was actually over a year old, but only just got the blue check).
Others impersonated Elon himself:
A fake Lebron James requested a trade from the Lakers and got a bunch of attention before it was deleted:
Note that all of those show the “verified” blue badge that used to denote that they were real.
Meanwhile, a ton of companies (i.e., potential advertisers) were also spoofed, and not always in a flattering light:
Now, at this point, most of these are kind of amusing. And all of the examples above have been shut down. Musk and his fans are joking about how they got $8 from all these guys and they lost their accounts, but the people who created them don’t much care about that. They were making a point.
And the point remains: advertisers are going to feel pretty uncomfortable about coming back to a platform that can’t protect their brands and is open to such things.
Even worse, is that while people are quickly spotting these jokes, you’d have to be crazy to assume that others aren’t using the blue checks for something more nefarious and a lot less public. It’s quite likely that scammers are quickly setting up blue check accounts, and it wouldn’t surprise me if mischief makers associated with nation states are doing the same.
This is the kind of thing that a good manager at least has folks exploring how to prevent, rather than launching it and just hoping you’ll fix it later. People are going to get scammed. That’s not good for Twitter, and it’s certainly not good for any company that wanted to do business with Twitter.