A columnist easily tricked Elon Musk's new Twitter verification system by posing as a US senator
- Washington Post columnist Geoffrey Fowler successfully tricked Twitter's new verification system.
- Posing as US Senator Ed Markey, he paid $8 for a Twitter Blue account.
Washington Post columnist Geoffrey Fowler has once again tricked Elon Musk's Twitter, creating a fake verified account for Democratic Senator Ed Markey. Twitter has since suspended the account.
Fowler wrote that his experiment, done with Massachusetts Sen. Markey's approval, showed how easy it is to dupe the site and its users, even under Twitter's apparently new-and-improved verification service.
The columnist used a coworker's dormant account, tying it to a phone number and shelling out $7.99 for a monthly Twitter Blue subscription, he wrote. He added that he never had to show any kind of ID or proof that he was who he claimed to be.
"After seven days, a blue check mark appeared on the faux Markey account, no questions asked," Fowler wrote.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
When Elon Musk took over Twitter in October, he sought to replace the verification process that gave accounts of celebrities, government officials, and established news outlets and journalists verified checkmarks. Instead, he wanted users to be able to pay for verification through Twitter Blue.
The move led to confusion and hijinks. In November, multiple fake accounts posing as Insulin maker Eli Lilly made claims about the cost of the the diabetes treatment. The drugmaker's stock fell about 4.4% the day after.
At that time, Fowler created his first fake verified Markey account, saying it took mere "minutes."
In November, Twitter put Twitter Blue on hold, with Musk saying the platform needed more time to safeguard against impersonation with "high confidence."
Last month, the company rebooted the service, saying it had fixed the kind of gatekeeping deficiencies that led to chaotic episodes on the platform. To help ensure the credibility of paid users, Twitter now asks them to connect a phone number to their accounts, among other requirements.
Markey described the ongoing verification issues as an "absolute joke," in a statement to Insider.
"Twitter's current leadership has failed to safeguard the platform from misinformation, failed to provide answers to my simple questions regarding their anti-fraud protocols, and failed to demonstrate an appreciation for the role that their platform plays in our democracy," he said in the statement. "It's easier to get a blue check mark than it is to get a straight answer from Elon Musk."
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