Twitter verified some fake accounts with identical followers during its public verification program that was relaunched recently, a data scientist has revealed.
None of the verified accounts with blue badges had posted a single tweet, and two used stock images for their profile pictures.
Twitter has now permanently suspended the “small number” of fake accounts it mistakenly verified, reports Daily Dot.
“We mistakenly approved the verification applications of a small number of inauthentic (fake) accounts,” the micro-blogging platform said in a statement.
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“We have now permanently suspended the accounts in question, and removed their verified badge, under our platform manipulation and spam policy,” it added.
The fake verified accounts were spotted by Twitter user Conspirador Norteno, a data scientist focused on disinformation, who highlighted six newly-created accounts that had been verified.
“Meet @aykacmis, @degismece, @anlamislar, @aykacti, @kayitlii, and @donmedim, a sextet of blue-check verified Twitter accounts created on June 16th, 2021. None has yet tweeted and all have roughly 1000 followers (and mostly the same followers),” he said in a tweet.
“Two of these six accounts (@kayitlii and @aykacti) have photographs of people as their profile pics. Despite the presence of the blue verification checkmark, neither image is likely to depict the account holder as both images appear to be stolen,” he said.
The six accounts had 976 suspicious followers in common, all created between June 19-June 20, and large numbers of these were using AI-generated profile pictures.
Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer, tweeted that the verification could have been an inside job.
“You might have a malicious or bribed insider. Something similar happened at IG (paid off by spammers, in that case),” he said in a tweet.
Twitter in May relaunched its new verification application process, beginning with six categories, and review public applications globally to help users earn the blue badge on the micro-blogging platform.
The six categories are — government; companies, brands, and organizations; news organizations and journalists; entertainment; sports and gaming; and activists, organizers, and other influential individuals.