A current U.S. Senator colluded with a Washington Post reporter to intentionally defraud Twitter’s verification system and is now throwing an online tantrum.
Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey collaborated with Washington Post reporter Geoffrey A. Fowler to create a fake account of the senator that went on to get verified by the social media company per their new processes.
Yeah, it’s not great when @geoffreyfowler can set up a fake Twitter account for a U.S. Senator in minutes.
— Shira Ovide (@ShiraOvide) November 11, 2022
After giving Fowler permission and the account got its blue check mark, Senator Markey wrote a letter to Twitter owner Elon Musk complaining that this was allowed to happen.
In his complaint, Markey conveniently left out that the fake account had his permission to do so. Those who run Twitter’s verification process couldn’t have known that information, but it certainly makes his claims less egregious.
In the Senator’s tweet, he claimed that Musk is “putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation” and demanded an explanation from the tech company’s top brass on what they’re doing to prevent the problem – the problem that Markey and Fowler intentionally created.
A @washingtonpost reporter was able to create a verified account impersonating me—I’m asking for answers from @elonmusk who is putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation. Twitter must explain how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again. pic.twitter.com/R4r7p6mduP
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) November 11, 2022
Musk, never one to let a barb go unrequited, replied that the reason a Twitter account impersonating Markey was able to be verified so easily was that the real Markey sounds like a parody himself.
And why does your pp have a mask!?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 13, 2022
Markey’s letter to Musk, written on the United States Senate letterhead no less, was poorly thought out and even included a pretty glaring error revealing the quality of the senator’s work.
Concerned that Twitter will quickly become a “breeding ground for manipulation and deceit”, Markey demanded that Twitter respond to his questions by “November 25th, 2002.” Someone should alert Musk that he’s in a world of trouble now that his response is two decades late.
One of the questions Markey demanded an answer to was how this fraud was able to happen. Thanks to Fowler’s Washington Post op-ed we already know.
— Todd Fox ✌ (@toddfoxauthor) November 13, 2022
The senator inquired about whether the social media platform has plans of re-instituting its verification system, and if so, whether it would be free or paid for. The letter concluded with a reprimand and reminded Musk that his response must be immediate. “Allowing an imposter to impersonate a U.S. Senator on Twitter is a serious matter that you need to address promptly,” the letter read. If it is indeed such a serious matter, it begs the question of why the senator gave his permission to do that very thing.
One would think that after two people deliberately violated the terms of service of the platform – and that became publicly known – they would cool it with their self-righteousness. But no, Markey doubled down. Perhaps sensing he was losing the exchange, Markey reminded Musk that he ought to tread lightly as the senator wields the power of Congress – and apparently, the vindictiveness and impropriety to publicly threaten a private citizen with it.
One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you’re spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will. https://t.co/lE178gPRoM
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) November 13, 2022
Fowler continued to lament that now that the verification is intended to prohibit bots from overrunning the site, instead of focusing on individuals of notoriety, the platform has lost its way.
For all its problems, Twitter’s old verification system gave this place a superpower: you could trust it for authentic information.
That’s why it became THE destination of things like public apologies.
Now the blue check no longer means much of anything. https://t.co/CQRf2YD01N
— Geoffrey A. Fowler (@geoffreyfowler) November 11, 2022
Suffice it to say, the move from Musk to make Twitter more egalitarian hasn’t gone over well with the site’s former blue-checked elite. No longer can they weed out the conversation so easily that they only interact with their peer group. Thanks to Musk, they must now suffer the voice of the plebeian.
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