Twitter has plunged into chaos amid a wave of fake verified accounts as the new owner Elon Musk introduces Twitter Blue. The feature allows anyone to buy a blue “verified” tick next to their name for $7.99 (£6.99) a month.
After the feature was introduced on Wednesday, several celebrity, politician, company and organisation impersonators started appearing on the social media sites writing fake news and offensive tweets. Twitter attempted to suspend and remove many of the fake accounts, but in many cases, the fake messages were available for several hours.
Many experts warned Musk that the new feature would lead to a wave of impersonators, scammers and exploitations on the site. And the extent of the problem was discovered by users on Thursday morning.
Major brands such as Chiquita, Nintendo, BP and Apple were quickly impersonated with well thought out usernames and blue “verified” ticks along with big names like former Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Joe Biden, ex-President George W Bush, and Mark Zuckerberg. Many of these accounts were quickly suspended, but not before attracting thousands of likes, comments and retweets.
A fake account impersonating the American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly tweeted that insulin would now be free for everyone in America. The company’s real account was quick to denounce the tweet, saying it was false information by an impersonator, but the pharmaceutical company’s stock saw a deep dive as a result.
Twitter has sought to fight the spread of fake accounts by adding a grey “official” tick on high-profile accounts, but many accounts are yet to gain the symbol. American users also reported that the Twitter Blue subscription feature became unavailable.
Elon Musk has yet to announce how he is going to deal with the surge of fake accounts in the long run after his $44 billion purchase of the company. And experts has warned that mistrust in blue ticks and serious misinformation can be spread during emergencies such as terror attacks and shootings when local authorities, police and journalists often use the site to share information.