Tech Reporter Teams Up With Senator To Create Fake Twitter Account To Call Out Musk's Verification System
Washington Post's Geoffrey Fowler got Senator Ed Markey's permission to create a fake Twitter account in his name to show Elon Musk has not fixed the site's verification system.
Washington Post tech reporter Geoffrey Fowler revealed he'd gotten permission from Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey to create a fake Twitter account under his name to expose the flaws in Twitter's verification system.
Twitter has had to contend with one crisis after another since billionaire Elon Musk took ownership of the company, and much of that controversy has revolved around the $8 monthly cost of Musk's newly announced blue checkmark verification subscription, which effectively allows anyone to create a verified account and impersonate whoever they wish.
Fowler said that after he created the account and applied for Twitter Blue's verification, Twitter "took my $8, asked zero questions and gave the account a blue checkmark," a sign Musk has not responded to requests to fix the site's verification system.
You can see Fowler's tweet below.
\u201cOops! I did again, @washingtonpost: \n\nI created a Twitter account pretending to be @SenMarkey (with his permission) and applied for Blue \u201cverification.\u201d\n\nAnd once again, Twitter took my $8, asked zero questions and gave the fake account a blue checkmark.\n\nhttps://t.co/zD3k7JIX2P\u201d— Geoffrey A. Fowler (@Geoffrey A. Fowler) 1672931641
Fowler noted that Twitter suspended his test account and has not addressed questions about Twitter's "manual authentication" he raised in a recent column "about how its systems protect users."
\u201cTwitter has now suspended my test account, @SenatorEdMarkey\n\nBut it hasn't addressed the questions I raised in my column about how its systems protect users. https://t.co/zD3k7JIX2P\n\nWhat is the "manual authentication" process that accounts go through before getting a blue check?\u201d— Geoffrey A. Fowler (@Geoffrey A. Fowler) 1672931641
Many were unsurprised by Fowler's announcement but echoed his concerns and questioned Musk's stewardship of the social media platform.
Indeed, quite a few critics believe the blue checkmark verification system is little more than a money grab to generate enough revenue for a business whose value has tanked under his leadership.
\u201cThe new Blue "verification" explained: Take the money and run!\u201d— Diego C. (@Diego C.) 1673027199
\u201cSo, under #Musk, #Twitter is selling fake IDs for $8. That appears to be his entire plan for generating enough revenue to pay for the $1 Billion annual interest he's larded on the business, as well as the collapse in ad revenue caused by his opening floodgates for right-wing hate\u201d— James Fawcette (@James Fawcette) 1673034229
\u201corganisation run by a reckless fool continues to do reckless, foolish things\u201d— that specific guy (@that specific guy) 1672979118
\u201cTwitter needs to fix this ASAP by doing two things \n1. Have a vetting and ID process like they do on Instagram, FB and LinkedIn for verified accounts \n2. Have a distinct colour between paid blue and OG/Legacy Blue\u201d— \ud83d\udfe3 Bobby Umar | Keynote Speaker (@\ud83d\udfe3 Bobby Umar | Keynote Speaker) 1672965575
\u201c@elonmusk this is what we are talking about man. This is the kind of stuff that just breeds misinformation\u201d— Anthony D'Agostino (@Anthony D'Agostino) 1672975063
\u201cThe idea that Musk's $8 "verification" is going to stop bots and misinformation is child-like logic. Just another lie Musk tells his weird, easily gullible fans\u201d— \u0421\u043b\u0430\u0432\u0430 \u0423\u043a\u0440\u0430\u0457\u043d\u0456! Nick Murica (@\u0421\u043b\u0430\u0432\u0430 \u0423\u043a\u0440\u0430\u0457\u043d\u0456! Nick Murica) 1673007616
\u201cGreat job Elmo! \nFiring most of the Twitter staff has really 'improved' service. \ud83e\udd2a\u201d— Jay_RESISTS (@Jay_RESISTS) 1672972383
\u201cOf course\u2014no guard rails in place since the take over\u201d— MiaAlee (@MiaAlee) 1672973680
Musk has repeatedly insisted that Twitter needs to go private if it wants to become a platform for free speech, though he has already come under fire for silencing his critics and spreading misinformation.
He has actually clashed with Senator Markey before, notably after Markey expressed concerns about Twitter's verification process amid a rise in imposter accounts on the social media platform.
In November 2022, Markey shared a copy of a letter addressed to Musk that noted a Washington Post reporter was able to demonstrate how easy it is to impersonate someone on the platform under Musk's new policies.
\u201cA @washingtonpost reporter was able to create a verified account impersonating me\u2014I\u2019m asking for answers from @elonmusk who is putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation. Twitter must explain how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.\u201d— Ed Markey (@Ed Markey) 1668198109
Although Markey called on Musk to stop "putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation," Musk mocked him, suggesting that Markey's "real account sounds like a parody."
Despite Musk's air of nonchalance, he has previously expressed anger at celebrities who jumped on a trend impersonating him on Twitter, restricting the accounts of comedians Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman under the guise that they'd violated new guidelines prohibiting Twitter handles from engaging in impersonation without identifying themselves as parody accounts.