- Devin Nunes is suing Twitter over parody accounts of his mom, cow Monday 8:15 PM
- The best new movies at SXSW 2019 Monday 7:55 PM
- #AbledsAreWeird demonstrates how not to treat people with disabilities Monday 7:33 PM
- YouTubers keep uploading racist meme anthem played by New Zealand shooter Monday 5:38 PM
- Myspace confirms that a decade-plus of user-uploaded music is gone Monday 5:03 PM
- ‘Love, Death & Robots’ suffers from blatant sexism Monday 4:38 PM
- Khloe Kardashian faces backlash for Instagram post saying to ‘love thy racist neighbor’ Monday 4:07 PM
- This Twitter user wants to expose white YouTubers for racist, transphobic content Monday 3:55 PM
- Trump retweeted a QAnon supporter during his Twitter bender Monday 1:24 PM
- Katrina Pierson supports Trump tweeting more about Fox than New Zealand shooting Monday 1:19 PM
- PewDiePie’s alt-right ties are impossible to ignore Monday 1:05 PM
- With this blade, I protect this meme Monday 12:48 PM
- Lead actress in ‘The Color Purple’ revival criticized for homophobic post Monday 12:39 PM
- ‘Arrested Development’ ends the same way it did the first time—unceremoniously Monday 12:10 PM
- Alleged gunman tried to rob YouTuber Adam22 during livestream Monday 11:32 AM
Apparently, Twitter’s ad approval process is still broken.
Twitter really needs to get its act together when it comes to managing ads and sponsored posts. On Sunday, a Twitter user (full disclosure: our former Debug editor Mike Wehner) spotted a promoted tweet promising to help you get verified on the social network. The tweet isn’t actually from Twitter, however—it’s a scam that takes you to a phishing site.
If you click on the ad, it asks for your Twitter password, your phone number, and your credit card information in exchange for verified status on the app. This isn’t the first time this type of sponsored content has cropped up on Twitter. A very similar verification-related phishing scam made the rounds in the fall of 2016. You can check out what this year’s variant looks like below. According to BuzzFeed, the website the ad directed you to is now offline, and the two accounts promoting the site have been removed from Twitter.
Jesus Christ, @twitter is promoting a phishing site that claims to offer Twitter verification and asks for your Twitter password, phone number, and credit card information "for verification" pic.twitter.com/B1Nu0D0rEz
— Myke (@MikeWehner) January 7, 2018
On Twitter, the blue check mark of a verified user indicates that it’s an account of public interest and that it’s authentic. For many, it’s a highly sought-after distinction, as it can lead to more followers and higher post visibility on Twitter. In the past, anyone could apply for this verified badge, but it has since edited its guidelines of what makes an account verified-worthy. It’s also introduced new rules as to the behavior verified users are expected to exhibit in the app. The real form to apply for verification on Twitter is here.
Twitter has an ad review policy and ad approval process in place, and phishing is clearly a violation of those terms. It’s troubling that this ad managed to slip through the cracks, though, particularly given recent events.
In the wake of the 2016 election scandal and the role Russia played on social media, ads on popular media sites such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have come under scrutiny. Twitter, in fact, banned several Russian organizations from purchasing ads on its platform in the future. However, despite these events, it’s clear that Twitter’s ad approval process still has serious holes. Prohibiting targeted, misleading advertisements may be challenging to fully prevent, but detecting spam and phishing attempts in its ad platform—particularly ones that spoof Twitter’s own features—that shouldn’t be a difficult feat.
In a request for comment, a Twitter representative said that the company doesn’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.
H/T Mike Wehner
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.