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Life's Rich Pageant

Beware The Blue Checks

Elon Musk's Twitter account displayed on a laptop screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on November 1, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Elon Musk's Twitter has introduced a subscription program that allows anyone to have a blue check—which previously meant a user was who they said they were—if they pay money for it. This was different than the other change today, when Twitter added a second verification check with the word "Official"; this move was killed within hours by Musk himself. Twitter's various grasps at profit and moderation are difficult to keep straight, even more so if you don't use Twitter, but what you should know is that for the time being, essentially anyone with $8 can pass themselves off as a famous person or legitimate entity and make shit up. This has already happened to Twitter itself.

Maybe this feature will be refined or removed within hours of this post being published. Maybe not. It's difficult to predict what Musk will tell his company to do, and anyway I'm not Matt Levine (verified) and I don't get paid for that. All I feel confident saying at this time is that a few rascals with dollars to burn have already taken advantage of this to pretend to be famous athletes making significant life decisions. This change has made all of the Fake Wojs and Adarn Schefters more effective, because it now takes two extra steps to figure out whether a tweet is coming from a legitimate source.

Under this new feature, the way to tell the difference between the types of blue checks is by clicking on them on a user's profile page. You will either see that the user "is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue" (which means they paid for it) or that the user "is verified because it’s notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category" (which means that they're famous or cool or worked for BuzzFeed at one point).

These were today's big hits, before all the accounts were suspended. Fake Aroldis Chapman cleverly swapped the "L" in the pitcher's first name to a capital "I" then announced he was re-signing with the Yankees:

A Yankees fan's worst nightmare! Barry cried for 10 minutes before we corrected him.

This one is a little easier, because the account name isn't close, but here is Fake LeBron James demanding a trade:

Fake Adam Schefter reported that the Raiders have fired head coach Josh McDaniels. Not beyond the realm of possibility:

Even hockey had one of these, with a phony Connor McDavid announcing his trade:

Finally, here's our good friend Jason Calacanis, but the fake misspelled version, responding to why he's in Jeffrey Epstein's little black book (that part is true):

Has this destroyed Twitter? I don't know, man. Ask a disinformation reporter or something. As a longtime unverified user, my lowly opinion is that this path to verification makes everything more confusing, and very few people are going to actually take the time to figure out whether it's Adam Schefter or an eight-dollar Adam Schefter knockoff. There are only a couple things to look at before you pass along a tweet. In the instance of Schefter, people know what his avatar looks like, they see his display name, they see the blue check, and they pass it on. Twitter has made that process obsolete. The bottom line is that blue checks are no longer an effective means of making sure something is verified, and Elon Musk is a thin-skinned loser who is in over his head. Fake Tony La Russa didn't not die for this.

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