In October 2022, Elon Musk took over Twitter in a $44 billion deal. The transaction came with drastic changes to the outlook and operations of the platform. One area that Mr Musk’s administration overhauled was how accounts were verified and the introduction of different variations of the verified check marks.
Prior to Elon Musk as Twitter CEO, blue ticks were given to notable accounts, so they were not susceptible to impersonation and parody. However, with the introduction of Twitter Blue, that changed. Once a mark of reverence, the blue tick could now be accessed by anybody willing to pay a subscription fee of $8 for the Twitter Blue check mark.
However, this new development aroused controversies and led to a mass disinformation campaign that misled many. At the dawn of the new changes, an account paid for a blue tick and impersonated a pharmaceutical company by tweeting false information, which later crashed their stock price. A report by TradingView shows a sharp decline in Eli Lilly and Company stock price between November 10 and 11, 2022.
The company had to apologise after the damage had been done and people had already been misled. See the screenshot below:
This incident made Twitter classify those accounts verified before the Twitter Blue era as legacy accounts. To stem the impersonation, Mr Musk announced a grey marker for government officials and government-related accounts and reserved gold for businesses.
With the 2023 general elections in Nigeria approaching, knowing how to identify an authentic account when sourcing or verifying information has become crucial.
Dealing with impersonation: corporate/organisation accounts
Although grey check marks have been rolled out to distinguish private accounts from government-related accounts, findings revealed that this was not done for every account in the latter classification.
INEC (@incenigeria) verified mark is still blue, which makes it an easy target for individuals with an $8 blue mark to impersonate. While seeking election information, the best way to know if you are interacting with the real page of the commission is to do the following:
- Click on the badge: Go to the page of INEC and click on the badge to get more information. For INEC, it will show that it is a legacy account, as seen in the screenshot below:
That same process applies to other government bodies like the Nigerian police and others who are yet to get the grey check marks as of the time of writing this report.
Note that the screenshot above differs from the one below, which carries a grey check mark that shows it is a government-related account.
Navigating blue ticks on the new Twitter
Knowing personal accounts verified for their notability and those on Twitter Blue is not obvious as both accounts have the same colour. Elon said in a tweet in November 2022 that it would remain that way.
Before engaging a tweet from a verified account, take it further by clicking on the check mark, as seen in the screenshot below. An account on subscription will be labelled so.
The above differs from a personal account verified for his notability as a journalist.
As the election period is less than two months away, the ability to tell accounts apart and what their verified badges represent will help one make informed decisions before engaging any information.