Twitter has recently faced criticism for granting a gold checkmark to a fake Disney account in its drive to offer free verification to large organizations. The blue checkmark, which Twitter uses to indicate verified accounts, confirms an account belongs to a company and is part of Twitter’s “Blue for Business” program. However, the account that received the checkmark, @DisneyJuniorUK, was fake and later suspended due to its use of racial slurs in tweets.
The issue is that verified accounts, even the fake ones, can see a significant jump in visibility once they receive the checkmark. This is why Twitter charges a non-refundable $1,000 fee for organizational verification, plus an extra $50 for each affiliated account. However, it seems that Twitter handed out the checkmark to the fake Disney account without proper review, and without even being asked to do so by Disney.
This incident highlights the problem of false identification on social media platforms, and how easily misinformation can be spread through fake celebrity and brand accounts. Last year, Twitter launched paid verification under Elon Musk, but the lack of protection around impersonation led to the creation of numerous fake accounts that spread misinformation within minutes.
In addition to the false identification problem, Twitter also removed legacy checkmarks recently, which resulted in notable individuals like the Pope, Shakira, and Beyoncé losing their checkmarks. However, over the weekend, Twitter has reinstated checkmarks for accounts with more than 1 million followers, regardless of whether they paid for verification or not.
This incident with the fake Disney account and the larger issue of false identification on social media platforms highlight the need for improved verification processes to prevent fake accounts from spreading misinformation. As for Twitter, the company needs to be more cautious and thorough when awarding checkmarks to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.