Twitter Blue signups unavailable after raft of fake accounts
Twitter’s relaunched premium services — which grant blue-check “verification” labels to anyone who pays $8 per month — was made unavailable Friday after it was overwhelmed by imposter accounts that it had approved.
This is the latest disruptive change to Twitter Blue, where uncertainty has been the norm since Elon Musk took over two weeks ago. The blue check was previously granted to celebrities, government entities, and journalists verified through the platform — in order to prevent impersonation. Anyone can now get one provided they have a phone and a credit card.
An impostor account posing to be Eli Lilly & Co., registered under the revamped Twitter Blue scheme, tweeted that insulin was free. The Indianapolis company had to apologize. Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, Musk’s own companies Tesla and SpaceX were also impersonated, as well as the accounts of various professional sports and political figures.
For advertisers that have stopped doing business with Twitter, the fake accounts could prove to be the last straw. Musk has had a difficult run at the top of the platform , laying off half its workforce and triggering high-profile departures . This raises questions about its viability.
Even if they are removed quickly, impostors can cause serious problems.
They pose a “great reputational risk” for advertising on the platform, according to Lou Paskalis (a long-standing marketing and media executive and former head of global media at Bank of America). Add to that the fake “verified brand accounts” create a picture of a platform in disarray. No media professional would continue to make advertising investments on this platform, and no governance apparatus nor senior executive would allow them to .”
Adding to the confusion, Twitter now offers two categories of “blue check”, which look identical. The first includes accounts verified before Musk became CEO. It states that “This account has been verified because it is notable in government, news or entertainment.” It also mentions that the account subscribes Twitter Blue.
But, Twitter Blue was not available as of Friday midday.
On Thursday Musk tweeted that there were “too many corrupt legacy Blue checkmarks” and suggested that they should be removed. .”
A press release sent to Twitter’s address was not answered. The company’s communications department was gutted in the layoffs and Twitter has not responded to queries from The Associated Press since Oct. 27 when Musk took the helm.
Thursday night, Twitter added gray “official” labels for some prominent accounts. The labels were first introduced earlier in the week, but it killed them just a few hours later.
They returned on Thursday night for at least some accounts, including Twitter’s.
Celebrities did not appear to be receiving the “official” label.
Twitter is heavily dependent on ads and about 90% of its revenue comes from advertisers. Each change Musk makes to the site — or rolls back — makes it less attractive for big brands.
” It has become chaos,” stated Richard Levick, CEO and founder of public relations firm Levick. “Who buys in to chaos A bigger concern for Musk is the risk to his reputation of a model tech executive, as the rollouts of verifications and other changes have been hampered by Levick.
“It’s yet another example of something not very well planned, and that’s what happens if you rush,” Levick stated. Levick stated that Musk is a trusted visionary, magician and trusted advisor. He can’t lose this moniker and that’s the danger right now.
Twitter represents a small percentage of total ad spend for the largest companies that advertise on the platform. Google, Amazon and Meta account for about 75% of digital ads globally, with all other platforms combined making up the other 25%. According to Insider Intelligence, Twitter accounts for 0.9% of global digital advertising spending.
” For most marketers with budgets, Twitter has always represented that thing that is too big to ignore but not big enough to be concerned about,” stated Mark DiMassimo (creative chief at marketing agency DiGo).
” “None of these is a forever moral and ethical stand on advertisers’ point of view,” he said. “If Musk proves to long-term civilizing force, advertisers will return — if Twitter remains there. It’s a ‘for now’ decision — why be there now?”
AP Technology Writer Frank Bajak in Boston contributed to this report.
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