Paid verification has got to be the most awful idea to come up with Elon Muskthe mind palace since its acquisition of Chirping. He said he was giving “freedom of speech” back to the people and that the old verification system was a “lords and peasants” system. Obviously, this backfired and led to more impersonation accounts popping up.
What started out as a trolling campaign has caused major real-world damage. To understand just how far the joke has gone, here are some brands and celebrities who have been impersonated on Twitter and some of the impacts they’ve had on real-life businesses.
Nintendo of America
One of the first brands that was hit by knockoffs was Nintendo of America. A fake verified account posted a photo of Mario, giving the bird on the Blue Bird app. While Nintendo knockoffs have been common for some time (looking at you, fake Shigeru Miyamoto), this post from the fake Nintendo Account has caused parents to complain to Nintendo’s main office.
Speaking of video game companies, Roblox has also been hit with copycats. A fake account, claiming to be the official US branch of the game, announced that it would add gender to this kid-friendly game. Obviously, this isn’t true, mostly due to the game’s target audience. But some people fell for it, which helped the tweet go viral.
Even the famous basketball player, LeBron James had a fake verified Twitter account. The impersonator has announced that he is willing to switch teams and leave the Lakers. Of course, that wasn’t true and people should have looked more closely at the Twitter handle as it contained a spelling mistake. The account was immediately suspended.
George W. Bush
For a more political stance, a fake George W. Bush emerged when the paid verification system was launched. This fake account posted “I miss killing Iraqis,” a reference to his foreign policy after the 9/11 attacks. Also, a fake Tony Blair account replied to the post in agreement. Unfortunately for the user, the account was permanently suspended due to a violation of Twitter rules.
The United States Department of Education
A fake US Department of Education Twitter account posted that it has removed all student debt thanks to Elon Musk’s donation. While it was clear the account was a parody, it was immediately hit with a suspension by Twitter itself. It seems that Musk is against giving debt relief to the younger generation.
The popular Jesus parody account has finally been verified thanks to Twitter Blue subscriptions. Oddly, news outlets caught on and criticized the account for “parodying” the Son of God. Here’s the thing, though, this account existed before the paid system. People knew this account existed and a blue check was enough for the news to find out.
Next to Jesus also occurred Satan. Just like Jesus, a blue check was enough for the news to realize that someone is impersonating the devil himself. Unfortunately for this account, there was an old impersonating Satan account with the rare handle, @s8n. Regardless, it’s interesting enough that news outlets are attacking these religious impersonation accounts soon after they’ve been verified.
You know what’s sad about this paid verified system? Is that the fake accounts are verified before the real person. This happened to OJ Simpson when a fake verified account appeared admitting to his crimes. Meanwhile, Simpson himself has never been verified since he joined Twitter in 2019.
Trump is known to have been suspended from Twitter in 2021 and is now active on Truth Social. Before Trump recovered his account, a fake account impersonating the former president appeared when Twitter Blue subscriptions were launched. Luckily for the former president, there were no reports of viral Tweets being made from the account, and it was immediately suspended. Conservatives are now wondering when Trump will return to the site, especially with the 2024 election looming.
Nestle was a huge brand that got tangled up with this whole copycat fiasco. The user released a tweet calling out the company for stealing water. While it sounded cartoonishly bad, it was sadly true, according to The Guardian. However, Nestle’s representation didn’t have a huge impact compared to what happened to the next company on this list.
A fake Eli Lilly account made the company millions in the stock market. The impersonator announced that it would be made without insulin, only for the real account to say otherwise. What made this fake tweet so convincing was his Twitter account. He managed to make it look like the correct spelling, but changed one of the “L”s to the letter “I”. Despite its impact on the stock market, insulin is still expensive to buy in America.
Elon Musk was heavily affected by these fake accounts before the paid system came out. Celebrities like Kathy Griffin changed their profile to look like Musk, only to be immediately suspended. This led Musk to add a rule to make sure their profile clearly states that they are “a parody”. Unfortunately, when the paid system came out, fake Musk accounts increased.
Aside from people making fun of Elon Musk, users have created fake verified accounts of his company, Tesla. These accounts poked fun at his cars, criticizing them for being easily explosive. These accounts also made 9/11 jokes about cars and compared the vehicles to Musk’s handling of Twitter. It has been reported by users that Musk removed the paid verified system after the fake Tesla account was created. It turns out that he didn’t want anyone criticizing his company.
Twitter’s paid verification was a disaster, and after things went too far, Musk pulled the program and announced a new system was coming soon. There’s a reason verification matters, and why no one should be able to get it for $8. If everyone has it, it makes it harder for anyone to figure out who’s who, and will have real-life implications if a prank goes off. too far.