Twitter is fighting a wave of copycats after launching a new paid verification system

Twitter is fighting a wave of copycats after launching a new paid verification system

Twitter is fighting a wave of copycats after launching a new paid verification system

CNN Business

Twitter appears to be battling a wave of celebrity and corporate impersonators on its platform who have been quick to game the company’s new paid verification system, hours after its launch.

CNN has confirmed that multiple verified Twitter accounts have been suspended by the platform after other users posted screenshots showing misleading content from the accounts. The fake verified accounts impersonated former President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Nintendo of America, basketball player LeBron James, software company Valve and others.

Prior to the suspension, a fraudulent Nintendo account tweeted an image of the video game character Mario giving a viewer the middle finger. LeBron James’ account falsely claimed that the athlete had requested a trade. The fake Trump account tweeted: “This is why Elon Musk’s plan isn’t working work.”

Multiple Twitter users reported Wednesday that they easily created verified impostor accounts, though CNN could not independently confirm their responsibility in all cases.

CNN spoke with the user behind the fake Trump account, Brian Whelan, whose Twitter and LinkedIn bios identify him as head of video and social media at London’s Times Radio.

On Twitter, Whelan claimed to have created a fake Trump account “within two beers” and after spending £6, and tweeted a screenshot of the fake account trying – but failing – to track former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after it was faked order was discovered. suspended.

In an interview with CNN, Whelan said he was able to impersonate Trump by switching an old, backup account. He bought Twitter Blue for an old account using a prepaid card linked to his real name and “immediately [had] Fake Trump with a blue tick for two hours.”

Rachel Tobac, a cybersecurity expert, noted the trend and said it could quickly spread to bad actors impersonating first responders or other government accounts.

“This introduction of verification is already causing major trust issues across the platform,” Tobac wrote on Twitter.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk said the feature was aimed at increasing the cost to spammers and that accounts abusing the new verification system to impersonate others would be permanently banned, despite his earlier promises that such bans would be “extremely rare” under his ownership of the platform.

The wave of impersonation comes as Twitter allowed any user to buy a blue tick for their profiles without identity verification – a feature that information security experts warned would lead to widespread spoofing and deceptive behaviour.

Musk argued during a Twitter Spaces event with advertisers on Wednesday that even wealthy bad actors, such as state-sponsored disinformation agents, would eventually be deterred because they could run out of credit cards and phone numbers.

Asked by CNN to respond to the claim, Chris Krebs, the former director of the US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, tweeted a GIF from the cartoon “Futurama” showing the Fry character narrowing his eyes in skepticism.

– CNN’s Rachel Metz contributed to this report.

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