A fake Will Ferrell account fooled the BBC because of Twitter Blue verification

The issue with the newest social media pattern of paid verification is being highlighted by an unlikely supply: actor and comic Will Ferrell.

Or, actually, an account pretending to be Will Ferrell.

On Feb. 18, BBC Information’ Tyne & Put on part revealed an article titled “QPR fan and actor Will Ferrell apologises for mocking Sunderland followers.” The piece’s headline got here from a tweet posted by the Twitter account @OfficialWilllF(Opens in a new tab) with the show title “Will Ferrell.” The Twitter avatar additionally incorporates a photograph of Ferrell.

The article included an embed of a tweet supposedly exhibiting the actor having apologized to the Sunderland soccer followers after his favored soccer staff, the Queens Park Rangers, misplaced a match.


Solely, there was one downside: The complete premise of the article was based mostly on a tweet(Opens in a new tab) from a fake Will Ferrell account on Twitter. 

Tweet may have been deleted
(opens in a new tab)
(Opens in a new tab)

“Haway man, sorry @SunderlandAFC,” reads the tweet(Opens in a new tab) from the fake Ferrell account. 

The person included a screenshot of an earlier article referencing a video(Opens in a new tab) exhibiting the actual Will Ferrell exhibiting assist for his staff from the sport.

“In a BBC Information On-line article, we incorrectly acknowledged QPR fan and actor Will Ferrell apologised for mocking Sunderland followers,” the BBC mentioned in a statement(Opens in a new tab). “A quote was taken from a verified Twitter account, nevertheless it was not made by the actor. We’ve got eliminated the article in its entirety because it was based mostly wholly on the apology.”

BBC did take away the piece, nonetheless, ClassyBuzz has discovered an archived version(Opens in a new tab) of the article at the Web Archive.

An archived model of the deleted article as seen on Web Archive.
Credit score: ClassyBuzz Screenshot / Web Archive

Whereas the @OfficialWilllF account does point out that it is a “parody” in its Twitter bio, it additionally has a blue verified checkmark. For a few years, these checkmarks used to substantiate that an account is definitely who it claims — a course of managed by people working at Twitter itself.

Nevertheless, ever since Elon Musk took over the firm and rolled out Twitter Blue subscriptions, virtually anybody can buy a blue checkmark badge for his or her profile after signing up for an $8 per 30 days subscription. There isn’t any precise ID verification required to show {that a} person is who they declare to be.

So this finally results in a scenario the place an account with a show title of “Will Ferrell,” with the phrase “official” in its Twitter deal with, will get confused for the actual Will Ferrell – all because the account now has a blue verified badge. A fast click on of the badge confirms that this person did buy that blue checkmark.

Fake Will Ferrell

This isn’t the actual Will Ferrell.
Credit score: ClassyBuzz Screenshot


Twitter delayed the unique implementation of Twitter Blue in November after customers began signing up for the paid subscription service simply to get a verified checkmark on fake accounts pretending to be manufacturers, company CEOs, and celebrities. These points performed a task in the firm dropping round half of its greatest advertisers.

Clearly, although, even after the relaunch of the service, the downside nonetheless persists. 

Whereas the writer of the BBC article ought to have double-checked to make it possible for the account actually belonged to the actor, this very state of affairs places a highlight on the actual problem at hand. If the BBC bought confused by a Twitter Blue person pretending to be somebody they aren’t, think about how complicated this should be for the common Twitter person who has already grow to be accustomed to the thought {that a} verification badge implies that a sure person is legit.

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