Twitter’s relaunched premium service – which grants blue tick “verification” labels to anyone willing to pay US$8 a month – was unavailable on Friday after the social media platform was flooded by a wave of impostor accounts approved by Twitter.
Before billionaire Elon Musk took control of the social media platform two weeks ago the blue tick was granted to celebrities, journalists and verified by the platform – precisely to prevent impersonation. Now, anyone can get one as long as they have a phone, a credit card and US$8 a month.
After an impostor account registered under the revamped Twitter Blue system tweeted that insulin was free, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. had to post an apology.
Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, Musk’s own Tesla and SpaceX were also impersonated as well as the accounts of various professional sports figures.
For advertisers who have put their business in Twitter on hold, the fake accounts could be the last straw as Musk’s rocky run atop the platform – laying off half the workforce and triggering high-profile departures – raises questions about its survivability.
There are now 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.
An email sent to Twitter’s press address went unanswered. The company’s communications department was gutted in the lay-offs.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted that “too many corrupt legacy Blue ‘verification’ checkmarks exist, so no choice but to remove legacy Blue in coming months”.
Twitter Blue was not available on the platform’s online version, which said sign-up was only possible on the iPhone version. But the iPhone version did not offer Twitter Blue as an option.
Twitter also once again began adding grey “official” labels to some prominent accounts. It had rolled out the labels earlier this week, only to kill them a few hours later.
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.
Celebrities also did not appear to be getting the “official” label.