Will the real Karl Stefanovic please raise your hand? Now, I want to be clear, when I did this – I let Karl know – but honestly I can’t believe how easy it was to create a fake profile of a high-profile Australian, leaving us to answer from this point on – just who is real and who can we trust?
Twitter was I think the first Social Media to embrace a process of “verification” on it’s platform which allowed authentic users, business and personalities to have that “blue tick” to confirm it really was who they say they were – especially in an online world where impersonation is rife and scams from impersonators are a real problem.
Back in January 2013 Twitter was very new, and trying to grow it’s size in the media and TV landscape as a real-time platform for information. I helped the man growing the business in Australia (Mike Brown, top bloke), to work with local media and introduce newsrooms and journalists to the platform.
I gave Mike a list of 54 of Australia’s top Technology reporters and journos for them to be “Verified”. This would mean people browsing twitter could see them as Authentic sources.
Over the years, it’s grown exponentially, as has the platform, but the one thing that remained true was that a Blue Tick meant that was real, could be trusted.
Not any more.
Today Twitter expanded the Twitter Blue subscription service to a new $11.99 price tier which automatically gives you a “Blue Tick”.
How do I know? Well, I setup this account:
That’s gotta be the real Karl right? He’s verified!
Nope. This is the real Karl:
Now I got a close enough username, and many might not fall for it. But having followed a few other “Blue Ticks” with the account, they followed back – and they wouldn’t do that to a random Karlos would they?
The bottom line is, anything, anyone or any account can get a Blue Tick.
I’m fine with that – but only if it actually involves some form of Verification.
In a time when online abuse, bullying and fake news is rife, why not institute a process whereby “people” are Authenticated to allow for their Blue Tick via Subscription?
Without that, it’s just a joke.
When it first went live Twitter did add an “Official” tag to originally verified accounts – Like Beyonce:
But just three hours later – that was gone. Elon didn’t like it.
Instead, if you tap on the “Tick” there are two different styles of “Blue Tick”:
Spot the difference folks. Yep, one says it’s from Twitter Blue, the other because of notability.
That’s simply not good enough.
Changes on the fly are Elon’s thing. Changes without a plan are also his thing.
Elon and Twitter say they are working FAST to crack down on fake accounts, and they will get permanent bans too – but that’s not enough.
We’ve seen huge problems with online and social ads featuring some of our best loved TV personalities which were just scams, trading on the good names and faces of Aussie celebrities. This Twitter Blue process wreaks of the same problem.
Twitter can lead the world with a user Authentication program that makes their platform viable, authentic and powerful.
Instead, Elon is throwing fuel on a fire that could burn the joint down. Time will tell.
One thing’s for sure, Fake Accounts are going to be a problem for a while.
A couple of other issues Twitter might want to know about because they’re just doing live real-world testing, you can’t have two Twitter Blue subscriptions on one Phone/AppleID which will be a problem for people running multiple accounts that seek to have the benefits of Twitter Blue.
But let’s see how long it takes them to work out that problem in the wild.