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.

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Comments on “Twitter Blue’s New Verification / Not Verification Scheme Widely Abused On Day One”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Going to be a lot of chargebacks for people who didn’t get the full month of service for their $8.

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Cameron says:

Wow this place is just dirt

So pray tell about the 12 to 15 thousands dollar side show .. if it’s about verification and not status ? oh no comment oh this comment never get’s posted ic …The fact that many many conservatives figures who were in no way breaking any twitter laws.. couldn’t get blue marked and that many others had to pay thousands of dollars to get it … shows you just full of ..

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re:

I bet dollars to doughnuts these ‘important conservative figures’ who couldn’t get verified were youtube or podcast Qanon effluencers or shady militia types, and followed up their claims of needing thousands of dollars to get verified with links to their givesendgo page.

Being loud doesn’t make you notable enough to need a verified account, it certainly doesn’t make you important, and not getting the validation you seek is not the same as censorship.

Anonymous Coward says:

At least its not virtue signaling with inepts. Now with new and improved “Authentic Illiteracy” (AI 2.0)

Free Service Paid Service
Chastity Lust
Temperance Glutton
Charity Greed
Diligence Sloth
Kindness Envy
Patience Wrath
Humility Pride

The middle finger has two pricing levels now too. “Please insert $8 for additional time” sounds all too familiar.

Much like a needed 3rd and 4th party in other word soup venues to square up equilibrium, Elon seems to have found his funk sway pretty quickly

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
RyunosukeKusanagi (profile) says:

https://mastodon.social/@taylorlorenz/109321648749231068

if you can’t open it, it says

posted at 16:32:58
This type of rampant impersonation and misinfo on the >primary social platform for news is not going to end well.

with the caption from @EliLillyandCo (NOT THE OFFICIAL ELI LILLY TWITTER)

We are excited to announce insulin is free now.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Gasp, you mean to say that when you turn a personal verification system into one where you just need to pay to be marked as verified people will use it for nefarious and/or hilarious means?! Who ever could have seen that coming?

On sec, I’ve just been handed a note, apparently the answer is ‘everyone but Musk’.

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
Mike Masnick (verified) says:

New Techdirt Features Announcement

Just want to give everyone a heads up, Techdirt will soon be introducing an ‘Official Techdirt Icon’ on those commenters that obtain funniest / most insightful comment of the week more than 2 times in a calendar year (icon can also be bought for $8 / month via my patreon)

nerdrage (profile) says:

okay I know Elon's business model...

Elon should move to his own private island and declare Twitter a sovereign nation to get rid of party poopers like the FTC and libel attorneys.

Then forget advertisers entirely and start taking $8/month from anyone who wants to just faff around with parody accounts. Or scams, but at that point, if you actually fall for anything on Twitter, it’s on you for sheer stupidity.

The only thing I’ve ever found on Twitter to be of any use are parody accounts. Kylo Ren, come back, we miss you!

Occasionally the parody accounts might actually make a valid point (free insulin).

Anonymous Coward says:

As I said in another comment thread: trying to have a social media website be the end-all for verification on someone’s identity is a huge disaster, and it always has been. Verification didn’t work even before Musk took over, and it routinely got it wrong and rejected the right people while verifying scammers. So adding the ability to get it by just paying 8 bucks a month was an even dumber decision.

Ideally an actual company versed in dealing with people’s identity should have been given the money, and it should have been an up-front charge to simply have them tell twitter if they were/were not who they said they were, and that should have been the end of it. If they want a subscription, then make a new service besides verification like a Twitter+.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.”

I will say: This is missing the point as much as Elon. They were doing it because it’s funny, not because anybody was trying to make any kind of ‘point’. We do a little trolling even if it costs $8. (a steal compared to some forms of trolling)

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