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Musk halts Twitter's coveted blue check amid proliferation of imposters

Stock Markets Nov 12, 2022 12:00PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks about new Autopilot features during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, California October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach/File Photo
 
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By Nivedita Balu

(Reuters) -Twitter Inc paused its recently announced $8 blue check subscription service on Friday as fake accounts mushroomed, and new owner Elon Musk brought back the "official" badge to some users of the social media platform.

The coveted blue check mark was previously reserved for verified accounts of politicians, famous personalities, journalists and other public figures. But a subscription option, open to anyone prepared to pay, was rolled out earlier this week to help Twitter grow revenue as Musk fights to retain advertisers.

The flip-flop is part of a chaotic two weeks at Twitter since Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition. Musk has fired nearly half of Twitter's workforce, removed its board and senior executives, and raised the prospect of Twitter's bankruptcy. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday it was watching Twitter with "deep concern."

Several users reported on Friday that the new subscription option for the blue verification check mark had disappeared, while a source told Reuters the offering has been dropped.

Twitter did not reply to a request for comment.

Fake accounts purporting to be big brands have popped up with the blue check since the new roll-out, including Musk's Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and SpaceX, as well as Roblox, Nestle and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT).

"To combat impersonation, we've added an 'Official' label to some accounts," Twitter's support account - which has the "official" tag - tweeted on Friday.

The label was originally introduced on Wednesday - but "killed" by Musk just hours later.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Co issued an apology after an imposter account tweeted that insulin would be free, amid political backlash and scrutiny into the high prices of the medicine.

"We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account," the company said, reiterating the name of its Twitter handle.

A number of misleading tweets about Tesla from a verified account with the same profile picture as the company's official account were also being circulated on the platform.

"Twitter has over the past several years worked to try to improve that (misinformation). And it seems like Elon Musk has unraveled it within a matter of weeks," said A.J. Bauer, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Musk had said Twitter users engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying it as a "parody" account would be permanently suspended without a warning. Several fake brand accounts, including those of Nintendo and BP (NYSE:BP), have been suspended.

On Thursday, in his first company-wide email, Musk warned that Twitter would not be able to "survive the upcoming economic downturn" if it failed to boost subscription revenue to offset falling advertising income, three people who saw the message told Reuters.

Many companies, including General Motors (NYSE:GM) and United Airlines, have paused or pulled back from advertising on the platform since Musk took over. In response, the billionaire said on Wednesday he aimed to turn Twitter into a force for truth and stop fake accounts.

Musk halts Twitter's coveted blue check amid proliferation of imposters
 

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Comments (7)
gab nea
gab nea Nov 13, 2022 9:27AM ET
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I have never seen such a flip flopping CEO, EVER!
gab nea
gab nea Nov 13, 2022 8:09AM ET
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he ruined twitter in just 2 weeks!
Gregory Alexandr
GregoryAlexandr Nov 12, 2022 5:04PM ET
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Ok  ..  Its not the CEO ... it is the problems the previous board left and completely denied, it was their basis for lawsuit when E.M. withdrew his offer. He is trying to clean up a fascist mess .. my question ... is this enough grounds for a lawsuit for false representation.  When board members falsely misrepresent their company supporting the valuation, supporting their narrative would suggest fraud.
Amit Patel
Amit Patel Nov 12, 2022 5:04PM ET
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What world do you live in?
PS Srinivas
PS Srinivas Nov 12, 2022 12:45PM ET
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Twitter downfall has started one should understand that handling social media business is not like speeding car where you are in driver and less dependent on others.
jason xx
jason xx Nov 12, 2022 12:22PM ET
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Hes already banning people he doesn't like. So much for his free speech crusade. Free speech only if you say nice things about me and agree with me lmao like traitor trump 🤣
jason xx
jason xx Nov 12, 2022 12:21PM ET
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Not as easy to stop the tr. oo. ll. ss as he tought. He doesn't know if there will even be an economic downturn anyway. This could be the worst of it right now. Advertisers would be happy to keep spending if he doesn't turn Twitter into a conspiracy toilet.
Benjamin USA
Benjamin USA Nov 11, 2022 8:15AM ET
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44 billion temper tantrum and worst trade of all time, biggest mistake he ever made was becoming CEO of twitter
John Avenetti
John Avenetti Nov 11, 2022 8:15AM ET
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yeah you know. you have no Benjamin's.
James Stuart
James Stuart Nov 11, 2022 8:15AM ET
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Orr how sad :) you lost some money. I feel sorry for you. Not :)
jason xx
jason xx Nov 11, 2022 8:15AM ET
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Since when do you need "Benjamin's" to have an opinion? He might find a way to turn it around but he is not off to a great start
Don Getty
Don Getty Nov 11, 2022 8:15AM ET
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jason xx  all those banks stuck with debt are crapping themselves - kiss dat doh goodbye
 
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