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Homophobes mocked with fake verified accounts as Twitter descended into chaos

A fake Sen. Ted Cruz account was one of many to get verified
A fake Sen. Ted Cruz account was one of many to get verifiedPhoto: Screenshot

Billionaire Elon Musk seemed to be having fun as the credibility of his latest purchase – the social media platform Twitter – was put in question as the site was overrun by fake accounts pretending to be politicians, corporations, influencers, and celebrities.

And LGBTQ people joined in the fun.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, bought Twitter for $44 billion in a deal that was finalized on October 27. He made himself CEO of Twitter and fired its board of directors, a move that was followed by layoffs for about half of Twitter’s employees.

One of his first new policies as CEO was making Twitter verification pay-for-play. Under the previous verification system, celebrities, politicians, corporations, and other notable people who are likely to be impersonated on the platform could get a blue checkmark next to their name if they were confirmed to be who they said they were. The system made it so that people like Taylor Swift and President Joe Biden could use the platform and readers would know that it’s really them.

Musk revamped the system and called it “Twitter Blue,” a system where anyone can buy a blue checkmark for $8 a month. Trolls looking to have fun could change their name to a celebrity or a major brand and get a blue checkmark next to their name and pretend to be a famous person.

The downside is that Twitter users didn’t know if someone posting as, for example, Lil Nas X really was Lil Nas X unless they already knew his official handle.

Or, as someone impersonating former President George W. Bush explained, “Y’all are missing the point about the $8. It’s a small price to make this app completely unusable.”

“Is what I would say if I was someone other than the greatest President America has ever known.”

Someone impersonating George W. Bush on Twitter with a verification checkmark

Several people went after anti-LGBTQ celebrities, getting blue checks to pretend to be the homophobe or transphobe in question and making them say things they didn’t actually say.

“Trans women are women. No longer team terf y’all,” a fake Dave Chappelle said. The real Dave Chappelle declared himself as a “TERF” and made extreme anti-transgender and anti-gay statements last year.

Fake Dave Chappelle tweet

“Matt Walsh won’t stop calling me and talking about genitalia,” a fake anti-LGBTQ Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro said about anti-LGBTQ activist Matt Walsh.

Fake Ben Shapiro talking about Matt Walsh

A fake Elon Musk offered a new plan that gives vacations and dinners with himself, “if your name is Grimes.” The queer Canadian musician Grimes left her relationship with Musk last year and dated out transgender activist Chelsea Manning afterwards.

“Please come back. I love you,” the fake Musk wrote.

Fake Elon Musk

A fake Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) – known for his anti-LGBTQ policies, including the infamous Don’t Say Gay law and a ban on transgender kids getting gender-affirming health care  – made a profile with a Nazi flag and someone doing the Nazi salute in front of a “DeSantis Country” flag.

“Top accomplishments: 82,541 Floridians dead from COVID, unaffordable housing, collapsing property insurance market,” the fake DeSantis’ profile read.

The fake Ron DeSantis profile

“I will eat your son,” a fake anti-LGBTQ Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote. “I will eat your infant daughter.”

Fake Ted Cruz

Twitter suspended those accounts, but not before many of them had viral tweets that caused confusion and forced the real people who were impersonated to issue statements explaining that they were the target of trolls.

One of the most notable corporate targets was Nintendo, the video game company. An unknown user registered the handle @nlntendoofus and the name “Nintendo of America” – and got “verified” – then posted a picture of Mario flipping people off and other inappropriate content. People who didn’t know that this wasn’t an official Nintendo account complained to the Nintendo corporation. The troll got thousands of likes – and an unknown number of people viewed their tweets – before their account was suspended.

Other tweets attacking corporations and advocacy groups also went viral before they could be suspended.

Musk himself appeared to be enjoying the fact that he could make $8 off of the fake accounts, using a smile emoji and a money bag emoji to respond to someone discussing the fake Nintendo tweets. He responded with a laughing emoji to someone else.

“Some epically funny tweets,” he tweeted earlier today.

Twitter Blue was suspended in the U.S. earlier today, according to Forbes. Twitter itself hasn’t issued a statement, which might be related to how Twitter’s communications department was laid off last week.

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