Markey presses Twitter over fake accounts
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pressed Twitter for information about its process to verify users who paid for a subscription on Friday after a fake account impersonating the senator received a blue verification check mark.
The impersonating account, under the username @realedmarkey, received a blue verification mark after it was set up as a test by a Washington Post reporter with Markey’s permission.
In a letter to new Twitter CEO Elon Musk Friday, Markey slammed the launch of the feature allowing users to pay for a blue check mark. The blue check mark once “allowed users to be smart, critical consumers of news and information in Twitter’s global town square,” but Musk’s “rapid and haphazard imposition of platform changes” and layoffs at the company “accelerated Twitter’s descent into the Wild West of social media,” Markey wrote in the letter.
Twitter paused its ability for users to pay for blue check marks as part of a $7.99 monthly subscription to Twitter Blue by Friday morning. The update came after fake accounts, like the one impersonating Markey, gained a blue check mark and caused chaos on the site.
When a user clicked on the check marks, they were able to see if a user had one because they were a Twitter Blue subscriber or if they were a “notable” figure or company. But that feature seemed to not be applied accurately across the board based on the Post’s test of the fake Markey account.
On the impersonating account, the display pop-up said it was given the check mark because the account was a “notable” figure, according to Markey and the Post.
The account was suspended as of Friday afternoon.
A spokesperson for Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Markey pressed Twitter for information about the process for issuing paid-for blue check marks, and how it differed from the free verification process that preceded it.
He also asked if Twitter is planning to reintroduce a verification system and to describe how it will work.
The letter is the latest form of pressure from the federal government facing Twitter after Musk took over the company at the end of October.
A spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday the agency is “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” and President Biden on Wednesday said Musk’s deal and ties to foreign entities are “worthy of being looked at.”