A fake Disney account was given a verified status by Twitter

Over the weekend, Twitter verified a fake Disney account called @DisneyJuniorUK, which was found to be tweeting offensive content.

The account received a gold verification badge before being suspended, prompting the account owner to tweet in disbelief and confusion.

The tweet has since gone viral. Twitter’s updated verification system, which recently underwent changes under the guidance of owner Elon Musk, has caused confusion among users. The “real” Disney Junior account was also verified with a gold badge.

Twitter has not yet commented on the incident. Last week, Twitter removed blue verification badges from “legacy” verified accounts and introduced a new color scheme to its verification system.

While many celebrity accounts initially lost their badges, most of them were eventually reinstated over the weekend, with nearly all users who have over one million followers receiving a new blue tick.

The blue verification badge, which used to be the traditional mark of verification, now indicates that the account is subscribed to Twitter Blue for a monthly fee starting at $8 (£6.40) and has completed certain verification steps, such as linking a mobile phone to the account. The account must also be at least 30 days old and have no recent changes to its name or handle.

The gold verification badge is reserved for businesses and organizations that pay a monthly fee of $1,000 plus additional fees for subsequent accounts.

The grey verification badge is used for official government accounts, such as those belonging to national agencies or heads of state.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra told the BBC the decision to remove legacy checkmarks was a big mistake, “possibly Elon’s biggest Twitter mistake so far”.

“Twitter has swung from crisis to crisis in the past six months, since Elon took ownership of the platform,” he said.

“He has now created the perfect breeding ground for fake accounts and misinformation, with no real way of keeping its users (or other brands) safe from the mess of his own making. It would not surprise me if we start to see more brands distance themselves from Twitter following this latest blunder.”

Critics of Elon Musk’s updated Twitter verification system are sharing an incident in which a fake Disney account was given a badge of authenticity.

This has raised concerns that fake accounts could use this to spread misinformation under a veneer of authority. The account in question was not trying to pass as an official Disney platform, and even the owner of the account was surprised to see the gold tick.

Twitter has already reversed the policy of free blue ticks for accounts with over a million followers, and there are increasing reports of badges being given to accounts that haven’t paid. Musk’s aim of leveling the playing field on Twitter by allowing all voices to be heard is commendable, but there is also a responsibility that comes with running a social network, and it remains to be seen how effective the new verification system will be.