two birds on a power line, one asks "are you verified?" the other answers, "does it matter?" white IGV logo top right corner

In Fall 2022, Elon Musk purchased the social media giant Twitter for $44 billion. This sale has caused him millions in debt and pushed Twitter into bankruptcy. To increase cash flow, he has since made some changes to the network. The most controversial of changes made is the ability to buy verification or a “blue check” subscription. Being verified was once only a possibility for famous well-known account holders. Since this new feature, verification has become something that anyone can buy and reap the benefits. This has come with much chaos, like the impersonation of celebrities, companies and brands. November has been undeniably transformative at Twitter. Here is what’s been going down.  

What’s Going On?

Musk has made several changes to the company since acquiring it. He has changed the names of features such as “Birdwatch” to “Community Notes”. Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorcey said that the previous name “Birdwatch” was “a far better name”.  

Twitter meme about verification featuring NFT character

Next, Musk followed in the footsteps of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and began the downsizing. He fired 90% of staff from Twitter’s India headquarters, bringing their employee to ~12 people. Bloomberg reports that 70% of these cuts changed their product and engineering team. Gizmodo reports the number of employees on Twitter’s content moderator team (now known as the Safety and Trust team) fell from hundreds to only 15. Regarding the firings, some legal experts say that Musk has violated the Federal Trade Commission’s consent decree. Many of these former Twitter employees were luckily hired by companies like Meta and Google.  

The change gaining the most attention is the verified blue checkmark subscription feature. All users are able to buy an $8/month subscription granting them the iconic blue checkmark. The subscription has coined the name Twitter Blue. Anyone can obtain this subscription, but their verification comes with a disclaimer message. It states, “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue”. Comparatively, accounts verified due to notoriety also have a message. Their message states, “This account is verified because it’s notable in government, news, entertainments or another designated category”. 

Many users’ justification for purchasing the subscription is out of concern their content will hide amongst the algorithm and stranded in a sea of this new influx of verified users. For content creators whose main source of income is networking through Twitter, this adds a whole new layer of limited exposure and invisibility to overcome.   

Of course, the Internet did its thing, and the memes began. 

Twitter meme about verification featuring four nearly identical verified accounts with pictures of random man with Elon Musk name and handle

Damage and Damage Control

An influx of fake accounts impersonating companies and celebrities, especially government officials began surfacing. 

Impersonations

To prove how easy it was to impersonate someone with Twitter Blue, Washington Post columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler impersonated (with permission) Senator Edward Markey and comedian Blair Erskine. 

Some of the worst cases of chaos seen have involved the impersonation of businesses.  

One account impersonated Nintendo of America and tweeted their video game character Mario making an inappropriate hand gesture.  

The pharmaceutical company giant Eli Lilly was also impersonated. the account with a blue check tweeted that, “We are excited to announce Insulin is free now”. Insulin is a very expensive necessity for those living with diabetes. So of course, the post received over a thousand retweets. Eli Lily’s stock price had plummeted before the official Eli Lilly account could chime in and kill the excitement.

Fake Eli Lilly tweet stating "We are excited to announce insulin is free now."
Real Eli Lilly account tweet that reads "We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account. Our official Twitter account is @LillyPad."

Amongst basketball fans panic ensued following a tweet from a fake Lebron James account.

The tweet readI am officially requesting a trade Thank you #LakersNation for all the support through the years. 💯 Onto bigger and better things! 👑 #ThekidfromAKRON #ImComingHome. 

fake tweet from Lebron James stating "“I am officially requesting a trade Thank you #LakersNation for all the support through the years. (100 emoji) Onto bigger and better things! (crown emoji) #ThekidfromAKRON #ImComingHome"

Even Musk himself was not immune to impersonation and mockery. Comedians like Kathy Griffin parodied Musk by changing their profile picture and name to mirror his. This resulted in Ms. Griffin’s account suspension. One of the fake accounts that impersonated Musk took a personal swing. They referenced his relationship with ex and mother of his child the musician Grimes. The account tweeted “Starting today we’ll begin offering Twitter Gold: a free subscription that gets you yearly family vacations and nightly dinners with me. If your name is Grimes. Please come back. I love you.”. 

Fake tweet from Elon Musk account that reads, "Starting today we’ll begin offering Twitter Gold: a free subscription that gets you yearly family vacations and nightly dinners with me. If your name is Grimes. Please come back. I love you."

Twitter was also impersonated. The account was able to scam users by claiming to grant free verification. The account was given access to user’s crypto wallets through the link “twitter-blue.com”. The tweet stated, “Woah, Twitter Blue is now available for free by authenticating their wallet assets. Authenticate now: twitter-blue.com Ps, there might be a little surprise after authenticating… bird NFT? 👀”.  

fake twitter account used to scam users.

 

Musk’s Insight  

Musk responded to the issues at a Twitter space. He nonchalantly admitted that this new Twitter Blue feature may be “a dumb decision, but we’ll see”. As well, with humility stating: “Please note that Twitter will do lots of things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t”. The statement is equal parts concerning and reassuring.

 On what users can do about impersonation and scamming, he tweeted “Report as soon as you see it. Troll/bot networks on Twitter are a *dire* problem for adversely affecting public discourse & ripping people off. Just dropping their prominence as a function of probable gaming of the system would be a big improvement.”.

Real Elon Musk tweet addressing what to do about impersonators and scammers.

On November 6th, Musk published a Tweet about parody accounts. He wrote, “Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying “parody” will be permanently suspended” and “Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning. This will clearly be identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter blue”.

Elon Musk's tweet regarding parody account policy and suspensions.

The Value of Twitter Verification is Questioned:

Twitter user mocking Elon Musks' new plans for Twitter

Another verified user Michael Nordine (@slowbeard) replied to his Tweet with a humorous synopsis of Musk’s changes saying, “phase 1: overpay for the bird app phase 2: make everything about it worse phase 3: ??? phase 4: profit!”

Twitter’s Guidelines

Twitter also revealed their verification requirements. 

On their page, they note the “definition of verification and the accompanying blue checkmark is changing”. In response to the misuses of verification they stated, “Please note, minimize impersonation risks, display name changes will be restricted on Verified accounts” and that, “Twitter Blue subscribers’ blue checkmarks may be taken away at any time for any reason at all by Twitter, including as the result of certain types of violations of the Twitter Rules, including but not limited to our rules around spam, ban evasion, and impersonation”.  

Also, Twitter noted in the new verification requirements there are new profile labels such as the Official profile label that applies to “government accounts (institutional accounts, elected or appointed officials, and multilateral organizations)*[*State-affiliated media and government accounts that play a role as a geopolitical or official Government communication channel display a unique label], certain political organizations such as political parties, commercial companies including business partners, major brands, media outlets and publishers, and some other public figures”.   

However, as Geoffrey A. Fowler discovered in his article, there was a bug on the mobile app. The bug mistakenly displayed a message claiming his fake account was verified for being notable a person. Part of the issue that allowed Fowler to conduct his fake accounts is Twitter’s lack of identification verification. Fowler said that he “used an old iPhone with its own test Apple ID and [his] regular credit card to fund the purchase. At no point did it ask [him] to show some real ID, or even question why [he] was using a name that was identical to a legacy verified account (Erskine has more than 430,000 followers), or a high-level government official”.

Bugs Bugging

Additionally, official verified accounts had issues changing their name. This was confirmed to be a system bug. For example, the musician Doja Cat was unable to change her name from “Christmas”. She tweeted Musk directly and he promptly fixed the bug. Then, Doja Cat changed her name to “fart”. Shortly after, she joined others by changing her name to “Elon Musk” with an unflattering pre-billionaire profile photo of him. 

twitter thread of Doja Cat asking Elon Musk to allow her to change her name. Then coyly changing her name to Elon Musk and impersonating him.

 New Checkmark Colors

After all the blue check mark scandals, Musk announced Twitter will be introducing new colours to code verified accounts. Blue checkmarks will be for individual. Gold checkmarks will be used by brands and companies. Grey checkmarks will be for government accounts. These new checkmarks are set to launch next week, on December 2nd.   

 November at Twitter from a Glance 

Final Thoughts on Twitter for Business

The reality is, faulty or not, Twitter isn’t going away anytime soon. It will continue to be a social media giant. Nowadays, Twitter is also the first place that news (or fake news) will surface. Thus, being Twitter-adjacent can help keep you “in the loop”. If you’re a business that has yet to join the Twitter community, you should. Especially if your customer or client base occupies the Internet. We hope this article didn’t scare you off Twitter’s new feature. Concerning the Twitter Blue bandwagon, it seems that Twitter has got it under control and it’s safe to hop on. The best way to get your business recognition (to be proud of) is to be active on your profile and to (respectfully) interact with other users on Twitter.  

Additional Reading:

The Pros & Cons of Twitter Advertising 

Article By:

 Mars Saskia Katrina Verbeek | LinkedIn

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IGV is a different from most Website Development and Digital Marketing Companies.  We are committed to keeping your website optimized.  That includes keeping your website protected from hackers by running on the latest security software.  We optimize your website to reduce website downtime and errors. At IGV we help you avoid unexpected expenses that come from repairing a website that is hacked, or a plugin that is phased out post development.

We know that all sounds good, but most people, even our current customers, don’t know how we achieve those results.

How is My WordPress Website Maintained by IGV?

At IGV we have developed a manual process that are internal team provides to our customers daily.  We physically login to the backend of all our WordPress Maintenance customers and check for plugin updates, security alerts, and changes made by WordPress to ensure that your website is functioning at an optimal level. 

When we say 24/7 support, we mean it.  Your website is our priority.  Protecting our clients’ digital assets is a privilege we do not take lightly.

If there is a plugin update, we test it for compatibility to your website.  If we discover there is a problem, we find solutions and discuss the next steps without interruptions to your site.  Depending on the WordPress Maintenance package you have selected those next steps may be covered.

However, our Basic package members may find that certain features are not covered by their maintenance package.  In those cases, clients may choose to upgrade their WordPress Maintenance, or they may choose to purchase Service Credits to cover the cost to make additional necessary changes to their website. 

Our clients should always be in the driver’s seat.  We understand that you choose your package level based on many factors for your business. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible with everyone and allow you to make the right decision for you.

What is included in my WordPress Maintenance Package?

The difference in many cases with what is covered and what is NOT covered under each plan has to do with the development time for implementing changes in different areas.  Those paying more for our Gold and Platinum plan are covered with time allotted for development projects on the back end should the need arise. 

Service credits will be offered at a discount for those on Gold and Platinum plans because they are already paying for a higher level of support through IGV.  We are happy to answer any questions regarding different service packages.

What Has Changed with the Addition of Service Credits?


At IGV, we realized that there is a gaping hole in our ability to best serve our clients.  Text changes and other minor fixes that take less than 15 minutes are covered in all our maintenance packages.  We averaged the time our tickets took in the last few years and most changes fell within that 15-minute timeline.

While Maintenance Packages cover the backend of website development including updating plugins and making basic changes to your current website.  There was no plan in place to help you make larger updates to your website over time.  We needed a solution for our clients.

Service Credits allow us to provide our customers with blocks of time dedicated to making changes to your website.  For instance, you may need to add a new page to your website, or maybe you want to include a chatbot to help with customer service issues after hours.  Service credits give you the flexibility to change what doesn’t work for you. 

Customers on our Gold and Platinum WordPress Maintenance packages will get a discount on Service Credits. 

Read More about Service Credits HERE

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