AP – Twitter’s relaunched premium service – which grants blue-check “verification” labels to anyone willing to pay USD8 a month – was unavailable on Friday after the social media platform was flooded by a wave of imposter accounts it itself had approved.
It’s the latest whiplash-inducing change to the service where uncertainty has become the norm since billionaire Elon Musk took control two weeks ago.
Before that, the blue check was granted to government entities, corporations, celebrities and journalists verified by the platform – precisely to prevent impersonation. Now, anyone can get one as long as they have a phone, a credit card and USD8 a month.
Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, Musk’s own companies Tesla and SpaceX were also impersonated, as well as the accounts of various professional sports and political figures.
For advertisers who have put their business with Twitter on hold, the fake accounts could be the last straw: Musk’s rocky run atop the platform – laying off half its workforce and triggering high-profile departures – has raised questions about its survivability. The impostors can cause big problems, even if they’re taken down quickly.
They have created “overwhelming reputational risk for placing advertising investments on the platform”, said longtime marketing and media executive and former Bank of America head of global media Lou Paskalis. Adding that with the fake “verified” brand accounts, “a picture emerges of a platform in disarray that no media professional would risk their career by continuing to make advertising investments on, and no governance apparatus or senior executive would condone if they did”.
Adding to the confusion, Twittnow has two categories of “blue checks”, and they look identical. One includes the accounts verified before Musk took helm. It notes that, “This account is verified because it’s notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category.” The other notes that the account subscribes to Twitter Blue.
But as of midday Friday, Twitter Blue was not available for subscription.
Musk tweeted on Thursday, “too many corrupt legacy Blue ‘verification’ checkmarks exist, so no choice but to remove legacy Blue in coming months.”
They returned on Thursday night, at least for some accounts – including Twitter’s own, as well as big companies like Amazon, Nike and Coca-Cola, before many vanished again.