– Fake blue-tick accounts flood the platform – risking millions in fines
Heavy turbulence after Elon Musk’s takeover of social media service: New boss warns of bankruptcy, consumer protections and high-profile staff exits. What is happening there?
“The master and pawn system with blue hooks is bullshit. All the power people! Blue for eight dollars a month,” the new head of Twitter, Elon Musk, posted at the beginning of November. The Tesla founder wanted to herald a new era for verification tickets, which previously provided proof that an account owner is who they say they are. Until now, they have awarded them to celebrities, politicians and companies after a Twitter audit. Under the new system, anyone who pays for a subscription of $8 a month will receive a tick. Identity verification does not (anymore) exist.
The change means that it is no longer easy to tell who the real person is or which company account is actually official. Twitter was reportedly considering introducing a second gray tick, but Musk reportedly scrapped the plan. Apparently, the new hook was already visible in some regions for a short time.
Super Mario with a finger and Teslas for Ukraine
But the plan, which has been implemented since Wednesday, is now leading to a flood of deceptively real-looking fake accounts with paid blue tickets. Accounts impersonating well-known companies or people post all sorts of nonsense and fake news. Whether you are dealing with an earlier, truly verified account or a newly purchased tick, you can only find out from the text after clicking on the symbol.
One fake post that got particular attention was from a fake Tesla account with the username @TeslaReal. He wrote on Twitter: “We will offer Ukraine 10,000 vehicles to support the army. Our cars are the most advanced explosive devices on the market.” And another wrote: “Everyone is on fire on Twitter. But our cars were like that before it was cool.” Alluding to problems with Tesla batteries that have also caught fire in the past.
But politicians such as Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Tony Blair are also popular victims of fake accounts. The Pope is no more spared than Elon Musk himself or Twitter Another example is a user who impersonated the gaming company Nintendo and posted a picture of Super Mario with the middle finger. The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly even had to apologize to Twitter users who were led by a fake account to believe that insulin would be sold for free in the future.
But Twitter is said to be preparing several measures against the problem. Accounts that have already been verified should no longer be able to be renamed, as “star” says.. The company also tries to delete numerous fake accounts as quickly as possible. Also, newly created accounts should not be able to subscribe to the eight dollar “Twitter Blue” service, which should prevent access to the blue tick.
Consumer protection in the US threatens millions in fines
The chaos surrounding the fake accounts has given Elon Musk a stark warning from the US consumer protection agency FTC. “We are following the latest developments on Twitter with great concern.” An FTC spokesman said Thursday. No company or its boss is above the law, an FTC spokesman said. Violation of the agreement with the data security and protection authority can lead to millions in fines.
Following earlier FTC violations, Twitter has pledged, among other things, to test new features for data protection and security before they are rolled out. According to media reports, Musk assured employees in an email after the FTC warning that Twitter would do everything it could to honor the agreement with the agency.
Exodus and bankruptcy warning
But this is not enough after all: As a result of this development, several high-ranking employees left the company. That after the company a week ago laid off roughly half of its 7,500 employees It has. Musk already fired the management of Twitter after taking over the company.
The new boss also revealed to his employees that Twitter is currently losing a lot of money. “It is possible that we will have a liquidity deficit of several billion,” he wrote in reports seen by the AFP news agency warned of possible bankruptcy.
With material from SDA and AFP.
Pascal Steiner is a news editor and online producer. He has been working for TX Group since 2015. He lives in Basel and is a father of two children. More information@steinerpascal
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