Several Twitter users have already begun exploiting the revamped Twitter Blue by receiving the blue check mark and pretending to be celebrities and politicians. Twitter Blue, which now costs $8 a month, is stirring confusion about which of the platforms’ accounts are real.
A verified Twitter account that had Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James’ name and a current profile photo of his family requested a trade, thanked Lakers fans and suggested he was going back to Cleveland. At a quick glance, the tweet looked real, but the handle was @KINGJamez, not the authentic @KingJames one. The tweet was deleted, and the account appears to have lost its verified status.
Another Twitter user pretended to be New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman and announced he was signing an extension with the team. That account was suspended and the tweet was deleted.
Two accounts that claimed to belong to former President George W. Bush and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair exchanged tweets about how they “miss killing Iraqis.” Another impersonated ESPN reporter Adam Shefter and in a tweet claimed Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels had been fired. All three accounts were suspended.
CBS News reached out to Twitter for a statement.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who took over late last month, said any handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying they’re a parody account would be permanently suspended. While parody accounts and impersonations have always existed on the platform, experts and users warned that putting a price on verified badges could sow confusion, misinformation and scams.
Previously, as a way to distinguish some accounts, Musk rolled out a gray “official” check mark next to some accounts to indicate the social media company had verified their authenticity. However, within hours of the experiment, he scrapped the plan.
According to Twitter, only accounts subscribed to Twitter Blue on iOS on or after Wednesday are eligible for the blue checkmark moving forward.