Blue check chaos: Twitter policy spurs confusion and scramble to prove authenticity
Twitter’s move to remove thousands of legacy verification check marks Thursday resulted in chaos as users were left scrambling to prove their authenticity in the face of fake impersonation accounts emerging.
Twitter began to remove thousands of its iconic legacy verification check marks on Thursday, nearly three weeks after CEO Elon Musk initially planned to do so. Without the verification check mark, impersonators have now taken to Twitter to create fake accounts representing politicians, government offices and celebrities.
New York officials and government offices faced a slew of fake accounts impersonating its official City of New York account, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D). One of the parody accounts impersonating Hochul claimed that she is running as a Republican for the governor’s race, while numerous accounts impersonating Adams — who no longer has a verification check mark — remain on the platform.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted that the impersonated accounts could cause “harm” in the event of an emergency when responding to a user who had tweeted a screenshot of the fake accounts.
“Jokes aside, this is setting the stage for major potential harm when a natural disaster hits and no one knows what agencies, reporters, or outlets are real,” the congresswoman tweeted. “Not long ago we had major flash floods. We had to mobilize trusted info fast to save lives. Today just made that harder.”
The account impersonating the city government has been suspended, and the New York City official account now has a silver verification badge. An account impersonating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also was suspended.
One Twitter user tweeted a screenshot that multiple official IRS accounts no longer have verified check marks, which can cause confusion in the wake of Tax Day this past week. The user (@jsrailton) also noted that other local and state regional offices no longer have verification badges, which will cause “totally avoidable chaos” for a long period.
Multiple public transit Twitter accounts, like Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transit, have also lost their verification badges.
An account impersonating Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) tweeted that Hemedti, the group’s leader, was killed. The fake account has a blue checkmark while the authentic account does not.
Musk said the platform would start removing its legacy verification check marks on April 1, but the only account to lose its badge that day was The New York Times, which he called “unreadable” at the time. As of Friday, major news organizations, including The Hill, have lost their verification check marks.
The blue verification check mark that was used for decades on Twitter was a symbol that guaranteed the company had verified the account holder was the actual person the user claimed to be. Before Musk bought Twitter last year, blue check marks were free and typically reserved for public figures, celebrities, reporters and other official organizations, like government offices or news outlets.
To obtain a verification check mark, a user must now pay $8 a month for “Twitter Blue,” while an organization could pay $1,000 a month to receive a gold verification checkmark. Official government accounts automatically receive a grey check mark on Twitter without charge for the foreseeable future.
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