Be careful who you retweet these days.
Now that Twitter has introduced the ability to buy a verified blue checkmark by subscribing to Twitter Blue for $8 a month, the social media platform has been flooded with accounts impersonating famous people or companies, which in some cases have racked up thousands of retweets before Twitter had a chance to suspend them.
Since Wednesday, blue checkmark accounts have popped up to impersonate everyone from former President Donald Trump to NBA star LeBron James. A tweet from the latter aimed to dupe followers into believing James was requesting a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. Another account impersonated Nintendo of America to tweet an image of Mario giving the middle finger, drawing thousands of retweets.
All of these accounts were suspended by Twitter — though according to The Verge, the Mario one was left up for nearly two hours.
Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, has stressed that impersonating anyone using a blue checkmark will lead to a suspension. Still, critics raised concerns over what sort of misinformation accounts could spread in the time before they're removed. "What if someone pretends to be a police account and 'reports' an active shooting," journalist Aaron Rupar asked.
Users can, however, click on an account's verified checkmark to find out whether it's been handed out because the user is "notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category" or because they have simply paid for it. During a Q&A on Wednesday, Musk defended the new policy, saying, "If someone tries to impersonate a brand, that account will be suspended, and we will keep their $8. And they can keep doing that, and we'll just keep their $8 again, keep their $8 again, great. Do it all day long. They will stop."