Twitter has officially debuted its “verified” blue check marks for the people — and they are already causing issues.
Elon Musk, the social media site’s new CEO, had promoted verification for all subscribers to Twitter’s premium service: Twitter Blue.
Subscribers who pay the $8 monthly fee are now entitled to some additional perks, namely, the blue check mark previously reserved for verified accounts.
The idea, as Musk put it, was to democratize exposure and perceived authority on the social media platform.
Previously verified accounts appear to still have their check marks, with some additional information on the profile page that explains why that account is verified.
But on the surface level, the way a tweet looks on an individual timeline, the newly verified and long-time verified accounts are completely indistinguishable.
As many tech watchdogs and concerned users warned would happen, this has led to a string of account impersonators.
Notably, so far, several accounts have already been suspended for impersonating celebrity accounts.
Images of one such account have been shared on the social media site. The account was impersonating Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, complete with a profile picture and username that matched the real NBA star’s account.
The account, posing as James, posted an image of the basketball star with a caption that explains he had demanded a trade from the Lakers. The Lakers are currently experiencing the tumult of an underwhelming season in what many consider to be the twilight of LeBron’s career.
From a cursory glance on a person’s timeline, it would be nearly impossible to tell the difference between the fake account and the real account of the Lakers star.
The account has since been suspended. Last week, comedian Kathy Griffin was permanently suspended from the platform after doing something similar; changing her entire profile and posing as the CEO of Twitter.
Musk released a statement following Griffin’s suspension announcing that accounts caught impersonating other public figures would be suspended permanently.
Still, those threats have not seemed to stop any pranksters who are looking to cause some confusion on the social media site.
Another account, which as of publishing this story remained online, impersonated ESPN’s well-known newsbreaker Adam Schefter. Schefter, who covers the National Football League and is widely regarded as one of the most well-connected reporters in sports, is known for breaking major football news on his Twitter account.
An account which, like the fake LeBron James, featured a matching name and profile picture, posted a photo of Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.
In the accompanying text, the fake Schefter wrote that the Raiders had fired their head coach. The tweet was retweeted more than 5,000 times.
It’s unclear how Twitter plans to combat users impersonating other accounts. Musk had stated that all users who participate in impersonation must clarify that their accounts were satirical; but many of the impersonating accounts spotted Wednesday lacked any disclaimer.
How Musk and his vastly reduced staff at Twitter will address and revamp the verification system appears to be a work in progress.
On Wednesday, the world’s richest person said “will do lots of dumb things in coming months,” adding that the company will get rid of what doesn’t work.