Among other changes incoming CEO Elon Musk has hastily made at Twitter has been the addition of once "verified" restricted blue checkmarks to the profiles of anyone who ponies up $8 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription.
This, combined with the ability to change ones display name on Twitter, has led to a deluge of fake accounts for politicians, celebrities and corporations that look extremely close to "official" social media accounts.
Before Musk's takeover, the company had made sure to grant verification status to people that it wanted to ensure could not be impersonated. Now, under Musk's regime, just the opposite is taking place.
Among the confusion are now accounts that appear to be from people like US president George W. Bush, wherein he tweeted offensive messages that were then re-tweeted by a similarly official looking former British prime minister Tony Blair account.
Other impersonators included a fake O.J. Simpson account that confessed to the murder of his former wife, and a fake LeBron James account claiming to be asking for a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Meanwhile, other users have had trouble changing their names back after Twitter appeared to remove the feature to try and fix the original verification issue. For example, the Financial Post notes that singer Doja Cat "found that she was unable to change her display name back from “christmas” after a new rule came in".
“I don’t wanna be Christmas forever @elonmusk please help I’ve made a mistake,” she pleaded with Musk on the platform.
In another example, someone impersonating a fake Eli Lilly account appeared to have wiped billions from the company's market cap after it Tweeted that the company was "excited to announce" that "insulin is free now".
The company had to step in and correct the record:
We regret to inform you that we will not be giving away insulin, a publicly funded invention that was given away by its creator to be given away to people so they don’t die.https://t.co/lft5DvAlKf— Rafael Shimunov is on Mastodon (@rafaelshimunov) November 11, 2022
Elsewhere on the site, other accounts were impersonating political figures like Sen. Ted Cruz. One account, sporting the name "Ted Cruz" with a blue checkmark, wrote: "The first time I entered my human wife, I said, groaning into her ear, "This is exactly how mother said it would feel".
It elicited a response from a fake Ben Shapiro account.
Entrepreneur Mark Cuban also lodged complaints, namely that "the new system made it harder to filter out notifications". He said he used the platform to screen out verifications in the past in order to reduce the amount of noise he encountered on the platform.
“I just spent too much time muting all the newly purchased checkmark accts in an attempt to make my verified mentions useful again,” Cuban remarked.
Elon Musk responded: “It’s working for me. That said, we can definitely make the verified mentions tab more usable.”
Musk said in response to the issue the company is removing many legacy blue checkmarks and will be adding "official" tags to people's bios - which would essentially replace the former purpose of the blue checkmark, to validate an account's validity.
Late in the day on Friday, the confusion prompted Sen. Ed Markey to reach out to Twitter for answers "about its new verification and impersonation policies", according to CNBC.
In a letter to Elon Musk, Markey wrote: "Safeguards such as Twitter’s blue checkmark once allowed users to be smart, critical consumers of news and information in Twitter’s global town square. But your Twitter takeover, rapid and haphazard imposition of platform changes, removal of safeguards against disinformation, and firing of large numbers of Twitter employees have accelerated Twitter’s descent into the Wild West of social media.”