css.php

Q: Can a verified blue checkmark on Twitter ever be fake?

A:

Surprisingly, yes. Last year, hackers managed to take over some verified accounts on Twitter and change the handle — but keep the blue checkmark. This allowed them to very effectively impersonate other accounts because they appeared to be verified. 

Although it has happened, it is rare. According to Twitter’s rules, once a verified account changes its handle, it loses the blue checkmark. It’s not clear how these hackers cheated the rules. But the question gets to a deeper issue: What does the blue checkmark really mean? Twitter used to award the checkmark  to indicate the account was authentic–that the ownership had been verified–but some took that mark to mean a kind of endorsement. 

“We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon.”

@TwitterSupport

Because of that perception, Twitter revoked its checkmark system in November 2017, after it verified the account of a white supremacist who organized the protest in Charlottesville where a counter-protester was killed.  

Twitter said at the time, “We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon.” Since then, people have not been able to have their accounts verified. (Users could previously just fill out a form.) 

However, Mashable reported in April that Twitter has been quietly verifying thousands of accounts. Those with a new blue checkmark include celebrities and the parents of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.  So Twitter is verifying accounts but without the promised transparency on exactly how the new blue checkmark process works.