When Twitter user @FakePopeFrancis tweeted “I’m drunk lol” on Wednesday, many followers were shocked and amused. But the account was not the official one of the leader of the Catholic Church.
It was one of the many impostor accounts that sprang up after Twitter launched its new subscription service, Twitter Blue, which allows anyone to get a blue check verification label for $8 a month.
The prank was intended to poke fun at the controversial decision by Elon Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion earlier this month, to make verification a paid feature. Before his takeover, the blue check was granted to celebrities and journalists verified by the platform to prevent impersonation. Now, anyone can get one as long as they have a phone, a credit card and $8 a month.
But the prank quickly turned into chaos, as scammers and parodists exploited the paid verification scheme to create fake accounts impersonating brands, politicians, celebrities and even Musk’s own companies.
The pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co was forced to apologize after an impostor account tweeted that insulin was free. Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, Tesla and SpaceX were also impersonated as well as the accounts of various professional sports figures.
By Thursday night, the disorder on Twitter seemed to have become too much for Mr. Musk. “We need to urgently roll out official labels for big advertisers due to impersonation,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
Twitter also announced that it would remove verification from accounts that were verified under the previous criteria unless they subscribed to Twitter Blue by April 1, 2023.
The move sparked backlash from users who criticized Musk for ruining the credibility and value of verification. Some also questioned the ethics and legality of the prank, which could potentially harm or mislead people who rely on verified sources for information.
“Basically, tricking people is not OK,” Musk admonished Twitter users at the time. But many wondered if he was serious or just playing another April Fools’ joke.
Four and a half months after the chaotic rollout of paid checkmarks, Elon Musk’s Twitter is following through on a plan to remove verification from individual accounts that……
Sciences and tech on Twitter: “New: Twitter to un-verify people who don’t pay $8/month starting on April Fools’ Day”
Despite impersonation chaos, Musk sticks to plan of un-verifying notable accounts.
Before Elon Musk took over the badge was granted to celebrities and journalists verified by the platform to prevent impersonation.
Twitter accounts impersonating celebrities and politicians spread on the site after the company rolled out paid check marks.
The paid verification system is scheduled to come back later this month.