Fact Check: How to spot fraudulent Twitter accounts

Fact Check: How to spot fraudulent Twitter accounts

The rollout of Twitter’s subscription service has prompted a string of accounts impersonating public figures, raising concerns about the potential for scams and misinformation.

The rollout of Twitter’s subscription service has prompted a string of accounts impersonating public figures, raising concerns about the potential for scams and misinformation.

Several accounts impersonating politicians, celebrities, and corporate brands have been suspended after they were identified as non-genuine.

The scammers paid the $7.99 required to display a verified blue tag — an identifier previously reserved for prominent people or organizations — under changes made by new Twitter owner Elon Musk.

There are steps people can take to determine if a Twitter account with a blue checkmark is authentic, including checking the account’s address, creation date, and number of followers — and noting who is following it.

For example, one account is purported to show NBA star LeBron James asking for a deal from his team. James’ authentic handle -KingJames – was created in 2009 and has over 52 million followers. These include other NBA players and the Los Angeles Lakers.

But the account that impersonated him used the handle KINGJamez, went online in November 2022 and had fewer than 200 followers, according to archived photos.

Twitter users can click on the profile badge to see if the account has paid for it. The popup on paid accounts says: “This account has been verified because it is subscribed to Twitter Blue.”

As for verified accounts, it says, “This account has been verified because it is prominent in government, news, entertainment, or any other specific category.”

Government agencies and public figures often list Twitter information on websites and other platforms, such as Facebook.

People can always “do a common sense check,” said Dan Yvonne, senior director of education design for the nonprofit News Literacy Project.

“Many of these scammers’ accounts openly spread inflammatory messages,” Yvonne said. “If an account is publishing something of news interest, is it the one who made the news?”

– Create fake accounts quickly –

Twitter, which did not respond to an AFP query, has rules against misleading and misleading identities. Musk tweeted Sunday that “Any Twitter that deals with impersonation without specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.”

But the problem remains.

“Determining credibility on the platform is becoming more and more difficult,” said Gordon Pennicock, a behavioral scientist at the University of Regina.

Brian Whelan, who created a fake account on Donald Trump, told AFP that the process was swift.

“I renamed an old account in less than five minutes, got verified instantly with a Revolut card in my name, then was able to use the account for two hours,” said Whelan, London-based head of video and social networking. Radio Times.

Other fake accounts have used paid badges to pretend to be attorney Rudy Giuliani, the video game company Nintendo, and Twitter itself.

The new ease of getting the blue badge makes media literacy more important than ever, as the new system can open the door to misinformation from accounts pretending to be leaders and government agencies, health officials, weather channels, financial advisors and more.

“This change opens up so many possibilities for bad actors that it will be difficult for fact-checkers to keep up,” Yvonne added.

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