Twitter Verifies Fake Account

Twitter has not offered any explanation for the mistake

By on January 4th, 2012 10:31 GMT

Twitter is a fertile ground for pranksters, if only because celebrities have taken to the site so much. Being so easy to sign up, get a Twitter ID and add a picture to emulate a legitimate account, a lot of people did just that.

Which is why Twitter implemented Verified Accounts, to guarantee that the profile really belongs to whomever it is supposed to belong to. The 'verified' check-mark ensures that you can trust that the tweets are coming from the person or company they're supposed to.

But it seems that may no longer be the case as the process, it turns out, is not foolproof. For almost a day, Twitter 'verified' the account of Wendi Deng Murdoch, which was created only a day after the controversial News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch set up shop on Twitter as well.

Very soon after Wendi Deng's account was created, it got verified, partly because the two Murdoch's appeared to engage in a conversation.

It was only later that it was discovered that the account was fake, as many had suspected. Fake accounts are common on Twitter and parody accounts are allowed, as long as they are clearly marked as such.

The account is still live, though it now offers a disclaimer of sorts and is no longer 'verified.' The problem is that it got verified despite the owner of the account, a British man it turns out, never receiving any communication from Twitter.

Twitter later confirmed that the account had been verified erroneously. But it did not offer an explanation as to why this happened. This is a bigger problem because Twitter doesn't offer many clues on how it verifies accounts.

Granted, this is one of the few if not the only slip up, certainly the one that got the most attention. So maybe Twitter's methods work as well as they can. But this still means that you can't always trust the "verified account" check-mark which pretty much defeats its purpose.

Comments