Senator gets impersonated twice, Twitter fails authentication again
Fowler says that Twitter never asked for identification before adding the blue checkmark, but after publishing the story, the platform suspended the account.
Washington Post journalist Geoffrey Fowler impersonated Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey on Twitter after he paid $7.99 for the per-month Blue “verification” service (but with the permission of the real Democrat Senator).
Per Fowler, Twitter never asked for identification before adding the blue checkmark, but after publishing the story, the platform suspended the account. Here's how the procedure started.
The user needed an account opened for at least 90 days, and with one available, Fowler put the username as @SenatorEdMarkey. Fowler visited a T-Mobile cell phone service store and purchased a 1-month temporary phone number, per requirements, for $15 with no name or ID asked for. He then signed up for the Twitter Blue subscription after paying with a credit card. Not only did he use a Gmail address rather than a senate.gov address, but no form of identification was also asked for either. Seven days later, the blue checkmark appeared.
In light of this test, the actual Senator Markey stated to Fowler that the social media platform failed a basic test. “It’s an absolute joke that Elon Musk, who prides himself on being a tech entrepreneur, can’t implement a functioning verification regime — except users aren’t laughing,” Markey said, adding: “Twitter’s current leadership has failed to safeguard the platform from misinformation, failed to provide answers to my simple questions regarding their anti-fraud protocols, and failed to demonstrate an appreciation for the role that their platform plays in our democracy,”
As part of Twitter's recent updates, officials and corporations are supposed to receive a different-color verification checkmark, as opposed to the Blue one for regular users who subscribe to it. Journalism pages and businesses, such as those pertaining to The Washington Post’s account were, given a gold check mark while US President Joe Biden’s account was given a gray one.
The weird matter, however, is that Senator Markey’s real account has a blue check mark that says, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.” The fake one says “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue.”
In December, the company's product manager, Esther Crawford, relayed that the phone verification step is a requirement for users to be given a blue checkmark in order to avoid impersonation attempts - ironically. Although Fowler provided a phone number that did not pertain to the real senator, the account was still able to pass as an impersonator.
The Verge had reported that Musk told the platform's employees that he won't be relaunching Blue until he is "confident about significant impersonations not happening.”
In addition to requiring Blue subscribers to provide a verified phone number, Musk previously said accounts will “be manually authenticated” before the blue checkmark appears on their profiles.
As a mechanism put in place to stop misinformation, verification was free before and serves as a confirmation of validity for the accounts of users such as governments, journalists, celebrities, and sports leaders. Musk has mocked the system as being run by "lords & peasants."
Other advantages listed in the upgrade include fewer advertisements and the capacity to broadcast lengthier videos and audio messages, all of which were addressed by Musk.