The last of an apparently endless list of disastrous consequences for Twitter users following the purchase of Elon Musk is very predictable: after redesign of the site verification system a flood of fake – and yet still “verified” – accounts started using the platform to fuck with people.
Previously, a “verified” Twitter account had a little blue check mark next to its name, which meant that the person tweeting from that account was who you expected. This is what the word “verified” means in most contexts. Under Musk’s new Twitter Blue subscription scheme, however, anyone who pays him $8 a month can too being “verified”, just because they pay, and so the internet shortcut for a trusted account – you’ll find blue ticks everywhere from Instagram to Depop – is now nearly worthless on Twitter.
Here are some examples from earlier today. The first is this account claiming to be Valve Software, tweeting about a new “competitive platform”. It’s not Valve, of course – the account name is actually valveotfware, and Valve would never use the word “excited” in a release – but there’s a big blue checkmark next to its name, which means a lot of people believed it was legit and believed it.
The second is this fake Nintendo account. Again, it’s not Actually Nintendo, but there’s a blue tick next to its name, which to most people who aren’t terminally online and follow every development of this ridiculous story, would suggest that it is.
(Note that while this is obviously a ridiculous tweet, a previous one from this same now-suspended account attempted to advertise an upcoming Super Mario Galaxy game on the Switch)
If you use Twitter for video game news and want to stay safe there, a good tip – even if it’s also a bit complicated – is that you can dig into an account’s verified status and see what kindly of verification they received. Going to an account’s profile and clicking/tapping the blue check mark will prompt you to either say the owner paid $8 for their status or if they are a real, verified person/company .
While the fake Nintendo account is here tweeting like a 13-year-old kid, the fake Valve account has since followed up this fake announcement with a statement explaining that they had a reason for the lies, saying in protest:
Twitter Blue is a problem, misinformation is so easy to spread and the damage it can cause can have a real impact on people much more than a fake game ad. You now own a massive platform and it is what you choose to do with it, do it better. @Elon Musk
Instead! While the video game accounts here (and no doubt countless others popping up as I type this) have been playing around with some pretty innocent stuff –something sports fans have done too– it’s now just as easy to impersonate a media, politician or activist and do some real damage.
In these cases, the advice is the same as for these game accounts (or any Twitter account); verify the check to make sure a verified account is actually verified, and….god, I feel dumber I even had to type that.