According to cybersecurity researcher ZachXBT, the feature meant to prevent scammers from impersonating legitimate organizations merely created a new black market.
Previously, all verified accounts had blue checkmarks. Now, blue checkmarks indicate that the owner of the account has an X Premium subscription and meets the requirements to display the checkmarks.
Government officials, multilateral organizations, and individuals acting as government representatives now qualify for a grey checkmark, while business organizations can qualify for a gold checkmark and a square profile picture.
Trivial Bar to Entry
In order to maintain a gold checkmark, organizations must shell out $1,000 a month. This, in Musk’s opinion, provided a high enough bar to entry that most scammers would balk at the price – which would still be trivial for any organization large enough to warrant a gold checkmark.
Unfortunately for X’s moderation team and userbase, one grand is nothing compared to the amount of money that can be made by impersonating a crypto project to promote fake airdrops and investments.
“Spoiler alert: If they make money with it they don’t care. That’s why one can setup a new acc a today, mirror you and if you report it YOU have to prove your are the real one, even they collected your info before. How else are getting fake spacex tokens promo space?”
New Verification Process Required
Zach called attention to the growing problem by showcasing 12 accounts he had come across in only 2 days, all of which were impersonating actual businesses by means of gold checkmarks.
These 12 accounts are all just from the past 48 hrs alone.
Verified orgs were intended to make it harder for scammers but it has just created a new black market for accounts… pic.twitter.com/cppyD5cUSj
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) August 27, 2023
Most of the accounts promoted fake token airdrops, which could drain the users’ wallets, collect information on the wallets’ holders, and more.
According to Zach and other users who have encountered the scammers, many of these accounts are sold on Telegram channels before being launched onto crypto Twitter. Often, these accounts rake in 5 figures worth of illicit profit, making the money spent creating the account inconsequential.
I’ve traced some of the drains that happen as a result of malicious links promoted using paid ads done by these verified organizations and it’s really sad to see that it’s often in the 5 figures until the accounts get taken down.
— Yazan (@YazanXBT) August 27, 2023
Although some of Zach’s followers with alleged contacts within Twitter offered to help get the accounts in question banned, all involved acknowledged that this was merely a stopgap measure.
In order for X to maintain its position as the leading platform for businesses to maintain rapport with their customers, its moderation team must urgently take steps to restore confidence in its verification process.