Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has only served to compound the social media platform’s woes, at least during the initial stage.
What Happened: The multibillionaire created a stir when he announced that the platform will begin charging $8 per month for the coveted blue tick mark that is accorded to verified accounts. The decision to give it to anyone who is willing to pay the said subscription fee has led to the spawning of impersonators.
What started off as innocuous impersonations soon turned into rampant fakes of companies, celebrities, establishments and governments. By being sources of misinformation, these fake accounts began to hurt the originals, in terms of cost, credibility and reputation.
Here’s a compilation of companies that suffered badly from the Twitter verification mess:
1. Lilly Swoons Over Diabetes Drug Misinformation: Eli Lilly & Co. LLY received a jolt recently after a fake verified account impersonating the company’s official handle posted a tweet that insulin will be made available for free.
The message caused shares of the big pharma to drop by about 4.45% on Friday, and the company’s market capitalization shrunk by about $15.6 billion. Lilly then clarified that the message was posted by a fake-verified account and that its handle is @LillyPad.
The whole episode also had another unintended consequence. It set forth conversations about the exorbitant dollars pharma companies are charging for life-saving drugs. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) chimed in with his view that Lilly should apologize for the over 1,200% price hikes for insulin since 1996 to $275, adding that it takes less than $10 to manufacture the medication
2. Lockheed Under Attack: Defense contractor Lockheed Martin, Inc. LMT saw its shares pull back by 5.48% on Friday after a fake account of the company with a Twitter Blue checkmark tweeted that it would stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S., pending investigations into records of human right violations in these countries.
3. BP Concedes Causing Peril: Impersonators attacked U.K. oil giant BP plc BP, with a verified account posing as BP tweeting, “Just cause we killed the planet doesn’t mean we can’t miss it.”
4. Chiquita On Slippery Ground: A fake account pretending as banana producer Chiquita tweeted, “We haven’t overthrown a government since 1954. The tweet apparently referred to the U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala, which is one of the world’s biggest banana producers.
5. Mario Lifts Middle Finger: Wednesday, a fake account of Nintendo Company Limited NTDOY tweeted an image in which Mario is seen lifting his middle finger. This is considered an obscene gesture, especially in the western world.
6. Pepsi Says Coke’s Better: A fake profile going by the handle @PEPICO, impersonating beverage giant Pepsi Co. PEP, tweeted Friday that “Coke is better.” Pepsi ended Friday’s session down over 2% while rival Coca-Cola Company KO added about three-fourths of a percent.
7. Nestlé Mocks Customers: Swiss packaged foods company Nestlé S.A. NSRGY had an embarrassing moment when a fake account impersonating it tweeted, “We steal your water and sell it back to you lol.”
8. Tesla Not Spared Either: A parody account impersonating Musk’s Tesla Inc TSLA electric vehicle company with the handle @TeslaReal tweeted, “BREAKING: A second Tesla has hit the World Trade Center.”
Twitter In Damage Control Mode: As controversies abounded, Twitter appears to have stopped offering verifications, stating on the Help Center page for Twitter Blue that no new subscriptions on Android or the web will be possible, beginning Nov. 9, until the $7.99/month Twitter Blue is available on these platforms. The subscription reportedly wasn’t available for purchase on iOS on Friday.
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