- The Washington Times
Friday, November 11, 2022

The proliferation of imposter accounts on Twitter is providing readers with a lively variety of fake news, from NBA star LeBron James requesting a trade to defense contractor Lockheed Martin to announcing the suspension of weapons sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Some users have described the problem as chaos.


A Twitter handle purporting to be the official account of drugmaker Eli Lilly, for example, tweeted this week, “We are excited to announce that insulin is free now.”

Spoof accounts are even apologizing for the claims of other phony accounts. Another false Eli Lilly account on Twitter, bearing the company’s logo, apologized for the earlier tweet about free insulin and said, “Humalog is now $400. We can do this whenever we want and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

There are often clues about the untruthfulness of an account. The false Lockheed Martin account used the Twitter handle @LockheedMartini.

The imposter accounts are causing a problem for Twitter and new CEO Elon Musk. The platform appears to have paused its $7.99/month Blue subscription service, letting people pay for a verification check mark, CNBC reported Friday.

The social media platform’s iPhone app no longer shows an option to sign up for Twitter Blue.

Mr. Musk, apparently the real one, tweeted Thursday, “Going forward, accounts engaged in parody must include ‘parody’ in their name, not just in bio. To be more precise, accounts doing parody impersonations. Basically, tricking people is not ok.”

Many of the blue check marks have been used to impersonate brands of multinational corporations with unflattering messages, driving advertisers away.

On Thursday, a phony Twitter account bearing the logo of Chiquita food tweeted, “We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Chiquita account. We have not overthrown a government since 1954.”

A false British Petroleum account with the company logo tweeted, “Just because we killed the planet doesn’t mean we can’t miss it.”

Numerous Twitter accounts that spent $8 to get verified are still pretending to be governments, politicians, celebrities and brands, the tech site Gizmodo reported.

“There’s a fake SpaceX account tweeting about its lucrative government contracts, a fake Kari Lake account saying that she lost her election in Arizona, and a fake Apple account trying to sell literal air, just to name a few,” the report said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.


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