Twitter verified a fake account for the new Norwegian finance minister, but apparently this is not Twitter’s fault. As first reported by the Norwegian tech site NRKbeta, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Norwegian Security Authority (NSM) mistakenly transmitted a fake account for verification.
Norwegian Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum has never had a Twitter account. The report states that several fake accounts masquerading as Vedum have surfaced since his election in September, so much so that the finance ministry sent a tweet last month, warning that the finance minister doesn’t really have an account. The translated tweet reads: “We want to inform that Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum does not have a private Twitter. The accounts that appear in his name are therefore false and will be reported. “
What was different about this most recent fake account is that it received a blue checkmark from Twitter. According to NRKbeta, Vedum’s fake account sent out tweets that oppose his political party’s policies, potentially ruffling some feathers in the political sphere. However, Twitter does not appear to be responsible for the error – NRKbeta concluded that the Prime Minister’s Office and the NSM were at fault.
“Unfortunately, there was an error in the report which caused a false account to be verified,” said Anne Kristin Hjuske, communications officer at the Prime Minister’s Office. NRKbeta. “The account has now been deleted and we have made sure that no further fake accounts have been verified. Additionally, we are currently reviewing our reporting routines to ensure this does not happen again.”
The prime minister’s office and the NSM were tasked with verifying the social media accounts of politicians following the recent elections. The fake account apparently deceived the two organizations, got tweeted, and passed on.
“Out of nowhere, one of these fake accounts appears verified”, Ståle Grut, the journalist behind the NRKbeta article says The edge. “It appears that someone in the prime minister’s office coordinating the verification was fooled by the account, and it ended up being tweeted along with the other newly appointed ministers who are also now all verified.”
Twitter recently revamped its verification process to specifically prevent the creation of fake accounts. It reopened its verification process last May after nearly four years of overhauling the system, then briefly put it on hiatus after mistakenly verifying several fake accounts.
But it seems no matter how sophisticated Twitter makes its verification process, it still can’t protect against old human errors. It’s still unclear whether Twitter generally delegates its verification process to outside authorities. If so, it is of particular concern for accounts that belong to senior government officials, and this incident is one example. The edge contacted Twitter with a request for comment but did not receive a response immediately.