Twitter fights back against wave of impersonators after rolling out new payment verification system

Twitter fights back against wave of impersonators after rolling out new payment verification system

CNN Business

Twitter appears to be battling a wave of celebrity and corporate impersonators on its platform who quickly gamed the company’s new payment verification system hours after its launch.

CNN has confirmed that multiple verified Twitter accounts have been suspended by the platform after other users posted screenshots showing misleading content from the accounts. The fake verified accounts posed as former President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Nintendo of America, basketball player LeBron James, software company Valve and others.

Before being suspended, the fraudulent Nintendo account tweeted a photo of the video game character Mario giving the viewer the middle finger. The LeBron James account falsely claimed the athlete requested a trade. The fake Trump account tweeted, “This is why Elon Musk has no plans work.”

Multiple Twitter users on Wednesday reported creating easily verified fraudulent accounts, though CNN could not independently confirm their responsibility in all cases.

CNN spoke with the user behind the fake Trump account, Brian Whelan, whose Twitter bio and LinkedIn identify him as head of video and social at London-based Times Radio.

On Twitter, Whelan claimed he created a fake Trump account after “between two beers” and spent £6 and tweeted a screenshot of the fake account trying – but unsuccessfully – to follow former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the account turned out to be fake. . adjourned.

In an interview with CNN, Whelan said he was able to impersonate Trump by reusing an old, redundant account. He purchased Twitter Blue for the old account using a prepaid card linked to his real name and “instantly [had] A fake trump with a blue tick for two hours.”

Cybersecurity expert Rachel Toback notes this trend and says it can quickly spread to bad actors impersonating first responders or other government accounts.

“This verification roll out is already causing huge trust issues across platforms,” ​​Toback tweeted.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk said the feature was aimed at increasing the cost to spammers, and that accounts abusing the new verification system to impersonate others would be permanently banned, despite earlier promises that such bans would be “extremely rare” under his ownership. Platform.

The impersonation wave comes after Twitter enabled the ability for any user to purchase a blue check mark for their profile without providing identity verification — a feature that information security experts warned would lead to widespread fake and fraudulent behavior.

Musk argued during a Twitter Space event with advertisers on Wednesday that even wealthy bad actors like state-sponsored disinformation agents will eventually be discouraged because they can run out of credit cards and phone numbers.

Asked by CNN to respond to the claim, Chris Krebs, former director of the US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, tweeted a GIF from the cartoon “Futurama” in which the character Fry narrows his eyes in suspicion.

— CNN’s Rachel Metz contributed to this report.

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