Twitter fights celeb imposters with Verified Account scheme

Attempt to kybosh 'Kanye' and stymie 'Spector'


Twitter has detailed plans to clamp down on celebrity imposters with a "verified account" service.

The move follows a lawsuit by St Louis Cardinals boss Tony La Russa over bogus tweets made in his name, as well as the creation of numerous other counterfeit celebrity profiles over recent months.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone dismissed La Russa's lawsuit as "an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous", but nonetheless acknowledged that the microblogging service had to do more to restore trust in the authenticity of accounts. Impersonation violates Twitter's Terms of Service, and the microblogging services already suspends or transfers control of accounts identified as fraudulent.

That doesn't stop anyone creating a fake account in the first place, however. To restore faith in the authenticity of celebrity profiles, Twitter plans to add a Verified Accounts feature. These accounts will incorporate a seal showing that they have been verified as belonging to the person or organisation named, a posting by Stone on the Twitter blog explains.

Still, the feature will be restricted to the Twitterati of celebrities and high profile organisation, at least for now. Trials of the service will start with "public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other well-known individuals at risk of impersonation," Stone explained.

Twitter, which has no revenue stream, justified the restriction as necessary because of the resources needed to make the scheme work, even on a limited basis.

"Please note that this doesn't mean accounts without a verification seal are fake — the vast majority of Twitter accounts are not impersonators," Stone writes. "Another way to determine authenticity is to check the official website of the person for a link back to their Twitter account."

Stone hinted that verified accounts might be sold as a premium service to business.

"When we do start testing Account Verification, we will be sure to provide ample methods for feedback," Stone said. "Initially, verification will not be tested with businesses. However, we do see an opportunity in that arena so we'll keep you posted when we have something to share."

Recent well-publicised cases of microblogging impersonation include updates purporting to come from the jail cell of music producer turned convicted murderer Phil Spector. Other celebrities impersonated via fake Twitter accounts have included figures as diverse as Vint Cerf, veteran Labour politician Tony Benn, American rapper and record producer Kanye West and the Dalai Lama. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Will this be one of the world's first RISC-V laptops?
    A sneak peek at a notebook that could be revealed this year

    Pic As Apple and Qualcomm push for more Arm adoption in the notebook space, we have come across a photo of what could become one of the world's first laptops to use the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture.

    In an interview with The Register, Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International, signaled we will see a RISC-V laptop revealed sometime this year as the ISA's governing body works to garner more financial and development support from large companies.

    It turns out Philipp Tomsich, chair of RISC-V International's software committee, dangled a photo of what could likely be the laptop in question earlier this month in front of RISC-V Week attendees in Paris.

    Continue reading
  • Did ID.me hoodwink Americans with IRS facial-recognition tech, senators ask
    Biz tells us: Won't someone please think of the ... fraud we've stopped

    Democrat senators want the FTC to investigate "evidence of deceptive statements" made by ID.me regarding the facial-recognition technology it controversially built for Uncle Sam.

    ID.me made headlines this year when the IRS said US taxpayers would have to enroll in the startup's facial-recognition system to access their tax records in the future. After a public backlash, the IRS reconsidered its plans, and said taxpayers could choose non-biometric methods to verify their identity with the agency online.

    Just before the IRS controversy, ID.me said it uses one-to-one face comparisons. "Our one-to-one face match is comparable to taking a selfie to unlock a smartphone. ID.me does not use one-to-many facial recognition, which is more complex and problematic. Further, privacy is core to our mission and we do not sell the personal information of our users," it said in January.

    Continue reading
  • Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware
    Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

    Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

    In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022