COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s been more than a month now since Elon Musk took over ownership of Twitter. In that time, he has implemented some changes, including how the social media site handles issuing checkmarks for verified accounts. News5 explains why cyber experts are urging Twitter users to be careful with who they trust on the platform.
In digital spaces, imposters are everywhere, it’s one of the top threats cybersecurity experts are trained to defend against. Recently, Twitter allowed users to pay for verified accounts, but quickly paused sign-ups after a wave of impersonators.
”As a digital society, we’ve been subconsciously or even consciously trained to trust that blue checkmark,” said Dr. Erik Huffman, a local educator, IT expert, and cybersecurity professional.
He says he’s been tracking the impact of changes at Twitter.
“It’s a verification, and it’s a way to attribute that this person is actually this person in a digital landscape where everything can be faked,” said Huffman about the significance of the Twitter checkmarks.
Just a few weeks ago, Twitter decided to open up verification to users who were willing to pay for it. The fallout included a wave of impersonators with new checkmarks.
”A verified fake LeBron James account demanding a trade. We saw a fake verified Nintendo account posting all kinds of obscene things,” said Huffman.
In the wake of these issues, Twitter paused the paid verification sign-ups and tweeted that it would aggressively go after impersonation and deception.
”Now, I think there’s an understanding that this verification is a big deal,” said Huffman.
As Twitter leadership irons out safeguards to deal with imposter accounts and misinformation, Huffman says we should be looking beyond the checkmarks.
”We now have to take a few extra steps,” said Huffman.
Before sharing a tweet or interacting with an account, he suggests clicking into the profile and looking for the following information:
- When was the account made?
- What were some of the recent tweets sent?
- How many followers does the account actually have?
And if small business owners discover someone is impersonating their business, he says don’t wait to take action.
”If you find an imposter, definitely report it and it may take a while, but definitely report it and if there is malicious information being targeted toward your customers, put out some messaging that this account isn’t a legitimate account,” said Huffman.
Hundreds of thousands of people have deleted their Twitter accounts during this transition, but cybersecurity experts warn if you delete your account, your Twitter handle gets thrown back into the open market and anyone could claim it. You may decide it’s better to lockdown your account, but keep it active instead.
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