Over the weekend, Twitter mistakenly verified a fake Disney account called @DisneyJuniorUK, which was found to be tweeting offensive content before it was suspended. The owner expressed disbelief and confusion on Twitter, which quickly went viral. This incident has added to the ongoing confusion surrounding Twitter’s updated verification system.
Twitter has been asked to comment on the situation. Interestingly, the real Disney Junior account has also been verified with a gold badge. In the past week, Twitter removed blue badges from “legacy” verified accounts and implemented a new color scheme for its verification system, following the guidance of owner Elon Musk. Although some celebrity accounts lost their badges initially, most of them have now been reinstated, and almost every user with over one million followers has received a new blue tick.
According to social media consultant Matt Navarra, Twitter’s decision to remove legacy checkmarks was a significant mistake and “possibly Elon’s biggest Twitter mistake so far.” He believes that since Elon Musk took ownership of the platform, Twitter has been going from one crisis to another in the last six months.
Navarra contends that Elon Musk has created a perfect environment for fake accounts and misinformation, with no reliable means of ensuring users or other brands’ safety from the chaos he has caused. He predicts that more brands may begin to distance themselves from Twitter following this latest error.
This instance of a fake Disney account being verified on Twitter is a prime example of what Elon Musk’s critics have warned about. The fear is that fake accounts can be given an air of legitimacy with a verification badge, allowing them to propagate misinformation. In this case, the account owner was surprised by the verification and wasn’t even attempting to pass off as an official Disney platform. The situation raises questions about how this obvious parody account managed to receive a gold tick verification.
Twitter has already reversed the free blue tick policy for accounts with over a million followers, and many accounts appear to have received badges without paying for them. Elon Musk aimed to level the playing field on Twitter when he took over, arguing that the platform shouldn’t have the power to prioritize some voices over others. However, running a social network also comes with a responsibility, and many examples of the subscription-based social media dream not quite going to plan have emerged.