Elon Musk’s new blue-check system for Twitter apparently cost at least one multinational corporation billions of dollars in value this week.
Eli Lilly, one of America’s foremost pharmaceutical brands, saw its stock price fall more than 2% Thursday after a fake tweet went viral earlier in the day promising “free insulin.” The account responsible for the fake tweet impersonated the official Eli Lilly account and had purchased a verification checkmark under Musk’s new “Twitter Blue” system.
Did Twitter Blue tweet just cost Eli Lilly $LLY billions?
— Rafael Shimunov is on Mastodon (@rafaelshimunov) November 11, 2022
The account, which used the username @EliLillyAndCo and the official Eli Lilly logo, tweeted Thursday afternoon, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The tweet quickly gained hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes, precipitating the drop in stock value that cost the real company roughly $20 billion in market cap.
The blue check was removed from the account and its tweets were made private later Thursday, but the damage had been done. Eli Lilly issued a statement clarifying that insulin would not be free under its real twitter username, @LillyPad, and apologized for the misleading statement being disseminated.
Musk promised to begin charging $20 per month to users who were verified on Twitter after he purchased the platform last month, a plan that quickly evolved into charging $8 per month for “Twitter Blue,” which would give users the same blue check mark as those who are verified along with some other perks.
Within days of the service launching, misinformation began to run rampant across the platform as accounts impersonating celebrities and politicians now had blue checks to grant them a veneer of credibility. An account impersonating Lebron James requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. Another pretending to be the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the death of starting quarterback Kenny Pickett. A fake George Bush and fake Tony Blair shared memories of “killing Iraqis.”
NEW: Twitter has suspended the launch of Twitter Blue and is actively trying to stop people from subscribing "to help address impersonation issues," per an internal note. 1/
— Zoë Schiffer (@ZoeSchiffer) November 11, 2022
Twitter reportedly circulated an internal memo Friday claiming it is suspending the launch of Twitter Blue and actively discouraging people from signing up while it addresses “impersonation issues.”
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