Twitter admitted that it had inadvertently authenticated a “small number” of fraudulent accounts, which it has now permanently suspended after being exposed on the network. The news comes less than two months after Twitter’s profile verification procedure was reinstated for users. Government, companies, brands, and organizations; news organizations and journalists; entertainment; sports and gaming; activists, organizers, and other significant individuals are the six categories that the microblogging site has limited its new verification process to.
Conspirador Norteo, a data scientist, called attention to Twitter’s verification gaffe by naming six confirmed accounts created on June 16. They hadn’t tweeted a single tweet since they were formed, and they all had a lot of the same followers who had joined between June 19 and 20. Two of the accounts in question looked to be utilizing phony profile photos.
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).
— Conspirador Norteño (@conspirator0) July 12, 2021
The common follower accounts, according to Norteo, were part of a botnet that included at least 1,212 accounts.
When the problem was brought to Twitter’s attention, five of the six verified accounts were suspended, while the sixth appeared to have been deactivated on its own.
In an emailed reply to Gadgets 360, a Twitter spokesman recognized the issue. “We authorized the verification requests of a tiny number of inauthentic (fake) accounts by mistake. Under our platform manipulation and spam policy, we have now permanently suspended the accounts in question and removed their verified badge,” the representative added.
Although Twitter was able to respond fast, it remains unclear how the fraudulent accounts received the verified badge. It’s also worth noting that the corporation only took action and suspended the accounts after the issue was brought to their attention on the platform. Furthermore, the corporation has not stated whether any fundamental changes are being implemented to prevent future verification of fraudulent accounts.
In May, Twitter relaunched profile verification by introducing a new application process and updating its eligibility criteria, months after soliciting public feedback and enforcing a policy that required accounts that no longer met the updated criteria to have their verification badges removed automatically. However, just over a week after resuming the procedure, the corporation suspended accepting new user verification requests before resuming it in early June.
Last week, Twitter responded to user worries about not being verified while believing they were eligible, stating that it would begin providing more information in emails about why a verification application was denied.