There is a rich history of media outlets being fooled by spoof Twitter accounts. Remember the Daily Mail falling for a fake Steve Jobs Twitter account back in 2010? Or ITV falling for a fake Thierry Henry account last year?
And those accounts didn't even display Twitter's well known 'blue tick' which is supposed to denote a verified account.
Here's one I made earlier:
Journalists who rely upon celebrity Twitter accounts for their news would do well to pay close attention.
Cluley told The Media Blog:
"There have been numerous occasions when journalists have been duped by news posted on Twitter from seemingly legitimate accounts, and then reported it as fact. There's a real risk that journalists will be more likely to be hoodwinked if the spoof Twitter account has used the "verified account" trick to appear legitimate."
Fortunately the cheat is far from robust and easily checked out if you know what to look for. But it is very easy to do and could certainly trick people who only take a quick look at a profile page online or on an application where the header image is displayed (such as Twitter's iPhone app).
First of all, it should be stressed Twitter does seem to have already thought about this potential cheat. And the company has put in place an easy way to verify it.
As Cluley points out, if you hover your mouse over a verified tick, a caption should pop up stating 'verified profile'. It should disappear again if you move your cursor away. That would not happen with the above crude cheat.
Alternatively, when trying to verify an account try running a search for the user name and then look at how they appear in the search results - that is somewhere where a verified tick cannot be falsely positioned: