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Fake accounts, chaos and a few sign-ups: Twitter Blue's first day in a mess Twitter

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Friday marked the first full day Twitter’s new policies for verified accounts were implemented — and the results weren’t pretty.

Twenty-four hours after the blue checkmarks disappeared from previously verified Twitter accounts, chaos reigned on the website, with impersonation and false information running rampant and few people signing up for the service to promote change. .

The move comes under new owner Elon Musk, who has vowed to make the struggling social media firm profitable by any means necessary — in this case, attempting to force users to pay for verification services. Which were earlier free.

Under the original blue-check system, Twitter had about 400,000 verified users and the checks meant that Twitter verified that users were who they said they were.

Under the new Twitter Blue program, individual users can pay as little as $8 per month for a blue checkmark while organizations pay more than $1,000 monthly. The change shifted the meaning of the check from one that has been independently verified to one that paid a premium to help get its tweets seen by more people.

The rollout – and its results – have been chaotic. Here’s where the situation stood on Friday:

alon takes and he gives

Several high profile Twitter users and celebrities lost their verification status on Thursday, including Beyoncé, Pope Francis and Oprah Winfrey. President Donald Trump – who hasn’t tweeted since he was allowed to return to the platform after being banned – has also been unverified.

Some celebrity user — including basketball star LeBron James, author Stephen King and Star Trek’s William Shatner — pledged not to join Twitter Blue. All three still had blue checks on Friday after Musk said he paid for them himself.

“My Twitter account says I’m subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t. My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t, Stephen King wrote on Twitter. “You’re welcome Namaste,” replied Musk, who apparently gave it to the author for free.

My Twitter account says I’m subscribed to Twitter Blue. I did not do it.
My Twitter account says I have given a phone number. I did not do it.

— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 20, 2023

‘verified’ loses meaning

Blue Check for users on Friday included a popup message saying the account “has been verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and have verified their phone number”. But verifying a phone number simply means that the user has a phone number and has verified that they have access to it – it does not confirm the person’s identity, raising concerns about the veracity of such accounts. does.

Many took advantage of the new verification-free world on Twitter, changing their profile pictures and names to impersonate prominent figures, from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to the late Arizona senator, John McCain. Other tweeted pranks Posing as legitimate news accounts to spread misinformation mocking Musk.

The ability to pose as legitimate organizations and statistics raised concerns that Twitter could lose its position as a platform for obtaining accurate, up-to-date information from authentic sources, including emergencies.

Fake accounts claiming to represent Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation started message sharing Early Friday falsely claimed that the city’s Lake Shore Drive – a major thoroughfare – would be closed to private traffic starting next month.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Transportation just announced the permanent closure of DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

Except, of course, he didn’t actually do it.

(First verified) Fake accounts posing as government accounts did it and got 100k+ views. pic.twitter.com/RjJ64dEpge

— Jake Sheridan (@JakeSheridan_) April 21, 2023

The actual accounts for Lightfoot and the transportation agencies did not have a blue or gray check mark as of Friday. Lightfoot’s office said the city is aware of the fake accounts and is “working with Twitter to resolve this matter”. At least one was suspended on Friday.

And while Twitter is now offering gold checks for “verified organizations” and gray checks for government organizations and their affiliates, it wasn’t always clear why some accounts had Friday and others didn’t. Accounts for major transit systems as well as official weather trackers in cities such as Paris and San Francisco had lost their verification status as of Friday afternoon.

Several affected agencies said they were waiting for more clarity from Twitter, which has rapidly reduced its staff since Musk bought the San Francisco company last year for $44 billion.

Sloppy execution, few sign-ups

The roll out of Twitter Blue – from user feedback to its execution – has been a flop. Some people pointed out that it appeared that the blue checkmark had not been completely removed from Twitter’s system, Unstable On and off for days before removal.

Meanwhile, Twitter is aggressively pushing the program, telling advertisers They need to subscribe to Twitter Blue to continue running ads – at a time when cash flows in from Twitter’s top advertisers has shrunk 65%.

Twitter has yet to benefit greatly from the massive change in policy, with various counts of its Twitter Blue subscribers showing no additional sign-ups under the new rules.

Independent Researcher noted That’s according to publicly available information from Twitter’s API — which is now only available by subscription — just 28 new accounts signed up for Twitter Blue after the major push this week. another report keep the numbers close 400 for new accounts. An independent analysis by Travis Browne, a Berlin-based developer of software for tracking social media, found that less than 5% of legacy verified accounts paid to join Twitter Blue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.