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Bogus Twitter accounts promising verification dupe thousands of hopeful users (updated)

privateverified

It was a good run for fake Twitter account @privateverified, which was just suspended after earning more than 22,000 followers in under 24 hours by pretending to issue the blue check marks that denote verified Twitter accounts. Its first tweet, "#RT if i Should Verified Your Accounts," got 6,440 retweets and 693 favorites, mostly from users who probably would not qualify for the elite designation.

The account tweeted excerpts from Twitter's official policy and entreated users to retweet it in order to be verified: "If you are a singer, band, artist, musician, producer, model, on air personality. Retweet if you want your account verified!" The account also broke character a few times, tweeting, "I think everyone should be verified because we're all actually us. #Equality." The person behind the account also congratulated already-verified accounts as if they'd just been verified: "Congratulations @sallyhansenuk your account has been verified ✔."

Twitter says it verifies "highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas," as well as "business partners from time to time and individuals at high risk of impersonation." Twitter is quick to verify A-list celebrities, but verification hasn't been a priority for the social network for the lesser tiers of famous musicians, politicians, and journalists.

There's plenty of pent-up demand for verification

Twitter's verification process depends largely on checking a user's email address to verify their association, and sometimes the social network makes mistakes, as when it wrongly verified an account purporting to be Rupert Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng. Meanwhile, the chosen ones who receive verification seem at times random: a review by one social media monitoring agency pointed out that Twitter has verified accounts with as few as four followers and even one account that had only tweeted once since 2009 (and it was spam).

There's plenty of pent-up demand for verification among minor celebrities, but @privateverified shows that there is demand for verification among the general public. It's a bit ironic to see Twitter ignore this, considering Facebook's desperate efforts to force its users to associate their online personalities with their offline selves.

Twitter suspended the account shortly after The Verge asked for comment, but declined to give a statement about the fake account or the status of its verification program. "We don't comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons," a rep wrote.

UPDATE: This appears to be something of a trend. Reader Andrew Barkley writes in to point us to @Verifiedtwltter, which has 21,007 followers all retweeting it for the check mark that will never come. Commenter LukeBenoit08 also pointed us to that account, which is still active as of this writing, as well as the suspended accounts @VerifiedTwiiter, @RequestVerified, and @NextVerified.

UPDATE: You get the idea, but reader d0mth0ma5 points us to a few more of these scammer accounts: @freeverifying, 15,955 followers; @iWillVerify, 640 followers; @VerifiedArtists, 337 followers.

The Verge
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