Despite the threat of bans, some Twitter users created fake accounts with celebrity names after the verification system was changed. The coveted verification ticks, which Twitter is breaking new ground by giving to subscription customers, were immediately misused for misleading posts.
It was announced on Wednesday via the alleged account of basketball star LeBron James that he wanted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers. It was easy to believe the account was real: next to the athlete's name was the familiar white check mark on a blue background, and the account name was also confusingly similar: "@KINGJamez" instead of the real "@KingJames". The account was blocked - but only after it had already received broader attention.
Also affected Nintendo
Twitter support tweeted that such cases are being "aggressively" investigated. Nevertheless, fake accounts were also created for other athletes, celebrities and companies. It hit the game companies Nintendo and Valve, among others, and an alleged Donald Trump account also returned to Twitter at times. The ex-president has been banned from Twitter since January 2021 after making kind comments about his supporters storming the Capitol in Washington.
The verification tick was previously reserved for celebrities, politicians, organizations and companies whose identity was verified by Twitter. Under the new system, everyone who takes out a subscription for eight dollars a month gets it. There is no longer an exam. Twitter boss Elon Musk said he assumes that authentication through payment services and app platforms and the risk of losing the account and the money paid in the event of violations offer sufficient protection against abuse.
At times, an additional gray tick was planned for previous owners of verified accounts. In a U-turn, Musk halted its launch on Wednesday after just a few hours. The eight-dollar subscription is only available in a few countries so far.
Moving towards an all-purpose app?
The tech billionaire announced the reorganization of account verification as one of the first steps after the roughly $44 billion takeover of Twitter. He announced that existing verified account holders who don't want to pay eight dollars a month would lose their ticks in a few months.
In an online conversation with advertisers, Musk announced plans for money deals under the Twitter umbrella. That could be a step towards an all-purpose app like WeChat in China, which Musk had suggested as a possible future for Twitter. He also emphasized that there had been no changes in the way offensive content was handled. It could be a few months before the committee announced by Musk on such content is formed. It will have a more advisory role, he stressed.