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Twitter’s blue tick comes under increasing pressure from fake accounts

The social media platform’s new ‘Blue’ subscription service appears to have been paused for new users, after many fake accounts with blue ticks were launched, impersonating famous people and companies.

The service, which costs around €8 a month, was brought in by its new owner, Elon Musk. It replaced the old system whereby users had to undergo a verification process to prove they were who they say they are, in order to obtain a blue tick.

In one example, parody accounts of former British and American leaders, Tony Blair and George W. Bush, were created with the blue tick, making crass jokes about the decision to go to war in Iraq.

Even Twitter itself wasn’t spared from the wave of jokes. It was impersonated, with a tweet announcing that Twitter Blue would now be free, which was fake.

While parody accounts are nothing new on the platform, having blue ticks next to their names certainly is. Previously only the genuine person or company would have had the mark, making it easier to distinguish who is a parody and who isn’t.

In response, Musk has said from now on parody accounts must clearly state what they are in their titles, and not just in their bios.

Twitter also seems to be re-launching its ‘official’ tag, from large companies and well-known people. Yet there is quite a bit of confusion, as the company brought this measure in and then previously got rid of it in quick succession.

There are fears that harmful fake news and not just comedic impersonations, could also spiral out of control under the new system.

One BBC journalist, Shayan Sardarizadeh, asked the question, what would happen on the platform if a terrorist attack or other fast-moving event is unfolding.

It’s conceivable that fake accounts could crop up purporting to be emergency services, spreading disinformation to people, while having blue ticks.

As Twitter has hundreds of millions of active users, with many using the site as their principal source of news and information, fake news could spread fast.

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