Sen. Markey demands answers from Musk on Twitter imposters

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  • After a Washington Post reporter successfully set up a fake verified account impersonating him, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., demanded answers from Twitter owner Elon Musk about how it happened.
  • Twitter appeared to have paused the $7.99/month Twitter Blue verification program shortly after the Post ran its test as impersonations of celebrities and brands proliferated across the platform.
  • “Allowing an imposter to impersonate a U.S. Senator on Twitter is a serious matter that you need to address promptly,” Markey wrote.
Senator Ed Markey speaks at the Back the Thrive Agenda press conference at the Longworth Office Building on September 10, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Jemal Countess | Getty Images

Sen. Ed Markey demanded answers from Twitter owner Elon Musk about its new verification and impersonation policies Friday after a Washington Post reporter successfully set up a fake verified account pretending to be the Massachusetts Democrat.

Twitter appeared to have paused the $7.99/month Twitter Blue verification program shortly after the Post ran its test as impersonations of celebrities and brands proliferated across the platform. Twitter has recently lost key privacy and content moderation executives.

But prior to the pause, the Post was able to set up a Twitter handle called “@realEdMarkey” using “a spare iPhone, a credit card and a little creativity.” The account received a blue verified checkmark, even though Markey already has two legitimate verified accounts. Even though the blue check is supposed to be a feature of the paid Twitter Blue, the Post reporter found that Twitter said the fake Markey account was verified “because it's notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category.”

“Safeguards such as Twitter's blue checkmark once allowed users to be smart, critical consumers of news and information in Twitter's global town square,” Markey wrote in his letter to Musk. “But your Twitter takeover, rapid and haphazard imposition of platform changes, removal of safeguards against disinformation, and firing of large numbers of Twitter employees have accelerated Twitter's descent into the Wild West of social media.”

Markey asked Musk to respond by November 25 about Twitter's process for issuing the blue checkmarks, how his impersonation was allowed by Twitter and how any new planned verification will work in the future.

“Allowing an imposter to impersonate a U.S. Senator on Twitter is a serious matter that you need to address promptly,” Markey wrote.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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