Elon Musk reveals ‘single most annoying problem’ with Twitter

Fake accounts promising crypto giveaways have plagued the social network for several years

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 05 April 2022 11:25 BST
Elon Musk speaks during a press conference at SpaceX’s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on 10 February, 2022
Elon Musk speaks during a press conference at SpaceX’s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on 10 February, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

Elon Musk has revealed what he finds to be Twitter’s “single most annoying problem”, just a day after he was announced as the company’s largest stakeholder.

The tech billionaire, who is currently the world’s richest person, paid nearly $3 billion for a 9.2 per cent stake in Twitter, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing published on Monday.

Shortly after his multi-billion dollar stake in Twitter was disclosed, Mr Musk posted a poll to the platform asking his more than 80 million followers whether they wanted an edit button feature.

Nearly three quarters of the 2.5 million respondents replied that they would like one, with some followers offering other suggestions to improve Twitter.

“Elon, you need to do something about these crypto spam bots,” wrote Pranay Pathole. “They’re getting really annoying. Improving the verification system to prove that you’re an actual ‘real’ human would help with this.”

Mr Musk replied: “Yeah, single most annoying problem on Twitter imo.”

As a prolific tweeter and an outspoken advocate of cryptocurrency, Mr Musk’s profile is frequently impersonated by scammers who attempt to trick his followers into sending them bitcoin and other cryptocurrency.

The fake accounts hold “giveaways”, which require people to send cryptocurrency to an online wallet in order to receive double the amount in return.

One campaign tracked by The Independent in 2018 saw more than 400 people send thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies to scammers.

One way to make Twitter more secure against such threats is to provide verification marks to official accounts to help distinguish them from fake users, with some popular cryptocurrency accounts already receiving check marks since Mr Musk was announced as Twitter’s largest stakeholder.

This measure alone would not completely solve the issue, however, as some of the more sophisticated scammers hijack verified accounts before changing the picture and user name to the person they want to imitate.

It is not a problem unique to Twitter, with scammers also posting fake giveaway videos to YouTube that claim to be connected to high profile tech figures like Mr Musk and MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor.

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