Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly clarified Thursday it is not offering free insulin, after a fake Twitter account—which was verified through Twitter Blue, a new subscription service implemented by Elon Musk— impersonating the brand said it was, a sign the new feature is causing confusion and misinformation to spread on the platform.
Twitter Blue launched Wednesday, giving any users who pay $8 a month the ability to be verified on the site, a feature previously only available to public figures, government officials and journalists as a way to show they are who they claim to be.
On Thursday, an account with the handle @EliLillyandCo labeled itself with the name “Eli Lilly and Company,” and by using the same logo as the company in its profile picture and with the verification checkmark, was indistinguishable from the real company (the picture has since been removed and the account has labeled itself as a parody profile).
The parody account tweeted “we are excited to announce insulin is free now.”
Roughly two and a half hours later, the actual Eli Lilly corporate account tweeted apologizing “to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account,” and confirmed its real handle is @Lillypad.
Users who click on a profile’s check mark can see if they were verified through Twitter Blue or for being a public figure, though Musk said Thursday that “legacy” accounts will no longer be verified in the coming months, and only those who subscribe to Twitter Blue will be.
The drastic changes implemented by Musk, including mass layoffs—have caused chaos at the company, reportedly including the departure of Yoel Roth, the head of trust and safety at the platform, and a senior member of the legal team reportedly warning staffers “all of you will be pressured by management into pushing out changes that will likely lead to major incidents.”
Eli Lilly followers aren’t the only Twitter users to fall for fake verified accounts since Twitter Blue’s launch. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman retweeted news Thursday from a verified account pretending to be ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “Yep just got fooled by the new Twitter verification system where the new owners, focused on ‘accuracy,’ have let people pretend to be reliable folks,” Haberman said in response to her confusion.
Paid verified accounts pretending to be former President Donald Trump and Lebron James spread mass confusion on Twitter on Wednesday as Twitter Blue was released. Before the launch of Twitter Blue, Twitter attempted to double verify some big name accounts by tagging them with an “official” badge, before scrapping the program within hours. Some verified users were banned from Twitter last week by pretending to be Musk by using his name and image on their profiles, though Musk said those who clearly label themselves as parodies would not be suspended.
Twitter Tries To Clamp Down On ‘Verified’ Impersonator Accounts As Musk Hints At More Changes (Forbes)
Musk Warns Twitter Will Permanently Ban Impersonators—After He Gets Parodied By Verified Users (Forbes)