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Prior to Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the platform, Twitter independently verified and awarded certain accounts, indicated by a blue checkmark, based on them meeting certain requirements.
These accounts were deemed to be active, notable, and authentic ones of public interest, but there’s now another way for anyone to get ‘verified’ which has resulted in potentially harmful consequences.
The new $7.99 Twitter Blue monthly subscription service enables anyone to pay to have the blue checkmark on their account without undergoing a review to confirm if they meet the active, notable and authentic criteria.
Musk previously claimed that the new system would act as a deterrent to spammers and scammers, but hours after its rollout on Wednesday it was also being used to promote untruths.
A fake but verified Nintendo of America account recently popped up advertising an unannounced Super Mario Galaxy game. It also published an image of Nintendo’s mascot giving the middle finger.
A verified Valve account was also used to ‘announce’ Ricochet: Neon Prime, which was billed as the “next competitive platform” from the company behind the Half-Life series and leading online digital games store Steam.
While it turned out to be fake, it nevertheless spawned its own thread on popular gaming forum Resetera before users identified it as a ruse and locked it.
Elsewhere, a ‘verified’ Twitch account was retweeted hundreds of times after ‘announcing’ new revenue splits for creators.
Potentially more worrying for the platform is evidence that the new checkmark system has reportedly been used to successfully impersonate Twitter and defraud users out of money.
In a bid to stop Twitter Blue’s relaunch from causing mass confusion over which accounts were authentic, Twitter temporarily introduced a new measure on Wednesday designed to help users distinguish between Blue subscribers with blue checkmarks and accounts that it had verified as official ones.
An ‘Official’ label, which wasn’t available for purchase, was temporarily given to certain accounts including ones for selected government agencies, commercial companies, major media outlets and some public figures, although this system was quickly scrapped hours later.
“We’re not currently putting an ‘Official’ label on accounts but we are aggressively going after impersonation and deception,” the Twitter Support account confirmed on Wednesday.
Musk summed up the current situation in a tweet on Wednesday, admitting: “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.”