Twitter Gave Blue Checks to Fake Accounts

Published · Jul 21, 2021

Twitter falsely verified six generic bot accounts, giving them blue checkmark badges. The company worked quickly to own up to the mistake and suspend the profiles in question.

The mistake was discovered by data scientist Conspirador Norteño on Twitter. The user noted that the six accounts were all created within the same time frame, have 976 followers in common, and mostly used AI-generated profile pictures.

Norteño claims that these were part of a botnet of at least 1,212 accounts. Twitter has since suspended five of the profiles. The sixth was deactivated on the user-end.

Working Out the Kinks in Twitter Verification

Earlier this year, Twitter relaunched its public verification program, originally discontinued in 2017. It lets anyone apply for the blue badge as long as they meet the criteria.

Foremost, an account must be of “public interest,” falling into one of six categories—government, companies/brands/organizations, news/journalism, entertainment, sports/gaming, or activists/influencers.

It’s clear from the presence of the bots in the supposedly exclusive club that the program still has a few bugs to work out.

Fake accounts that appear legitimate have the potential to spread misinformation or launch mass phishing scams.

With how prominent social media use has become in everyday life, it’s important for platforms to be sure of the content being generated and shared. Proper background checks of users could help with that.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.