Twitter’s coveted verification badge had been a social media status symbol for some time. Many have tried to become verified with the blue check, but Twitter unofficially closed applications in 2017.
Facing a backlash after verifying a white supremacist and six fake accounts, Twitter said that it would be looking into ways to create a more robust process. The result saw the reopening of the verification applications earlier this year.
There are several qualifying criteria that blue check hopefuls need to meet, and the process itself isn’t quick. With millions of users applying, the system has taken some strain. But that hasn’t stopped criminals from trying to cash in on their aspirations.
Here’s the backstory
Even if you meet the criteria, there is no guarantee that platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram will approve your verification application. Self-styled social media consultants and scammers have seen this as an opportunity, offering fast verification to major services for a fee.
Several companies help with verification, and for as little as $1,500, they will craft “all the necessary visibility on news channels” that would be “equally valid for Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube verification.” Others say that your budget “needs to be very strong” as this is a “rare opportunity.”
In truth, the only way that you can get verified is through the platform itself. There isn’t anybody other than Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg that can fast-track your status symbol.
How to spot a verification scam
The examples given maybe not necessarily be illegal or fraudulent, but it certainly raises ethical questions. Other scammers are a lot more cunning, with their only goal of stealing your personal information and your social media account.
“Hackers use a fake application form for an Instagram verified badge as a lure. To bait a potential victim, the hackers pose as staff members of Instagram. The message claims that the account owner can apply for a verified badge by filling out an application form, which can be accessed through a URL,” explains cybersecurity company Trend Micro.
Naturally, the webpage is completely fake. After victims enter their details, hackers would capture the information giving them all the tools they need to hijack their account or worse. Think identity theft in some cases.
Here’s how to stay safe:
- If the website or service offers two-factor authentication, enable it. This gives you an extra layer of protection from unauthorized access.
- Never open links or download attachments in messages or emails from people that you don’t know or trust.
- Be extra cautious if you are approached with the prospect of having your social media account verified.
- Ensure that you always use the official website when signing into a platform. Make sure that the website’s URL includes ‘https’ to denote a secure connection.
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