BY ARIELLE KRAUS
In a world revolving around instant technology, it is not uncommon for many individuals to turn to Twitter as their source of news. With its 280 character limit, the news is presented how younger generations like it: short and to the point. However, when using Twitter as one’s primary source of news, it is always important to verify that information is coming from a credible and real account.
Just like verifying that articles read online come from reliable sources, the same need for credibility applies to Twitter accounts. It is so important to ensure that Twitter is presenting the user with actual information and not the nonsense found in the world of fake Twitter accounts.
With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, students waited for the announcement of the closure of schools. With Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), this announcement was not made until Superintendent Robert Runcie spoke on the afternoon of Friday, March 13. However, a fake Twitter account began to emerge, providing BCPS students with false and inaccurate information prior to this announcement.
Going by the username of @bcpsnews, this account was formed in March and posted their first tweet on March 12. The account seems legit, as it uses the BCPS logo as its profile picture and a different BCPS logo as its header image.
Nevertheless, this account is anything but legitimate. Its very first tweet announced that BCPS would close schools beginning March 13. This came with no official news and caused confusion as many users in the comments section were unsure if this was true or not.
At the time of the posting of this tweet, the account had very few followers and currently only has 43– a very small amount that also raises the question of its credibility. This Twitter account continued to post “BCPS updates” until the following day, March 13.
This account puts into perspective the importance of acknowledging and recognizing which Twitter accounts are real and which are fake. BCPS students who viewed that tweet may have actually believed it and stayed home from school on March 13– a day that, in reality, was a normal school day. This account is also followed by BCPS Governmental Affairs, an actual BCPS account, which could lead users into believing that @bcpsnews is a real BCPS account as well.
Not only do fake accounts pose as a source of news, but they could also pretend to be an individual that they are not. Twitter does not support this and has created an impersonation policy to prevent this. If users suspect an account is impersonating an individual or company, they can report it and Twitter will investigate if this accusation is true or not.
It is often a misconception that people will automatically know whether or not a Twitter account is real or fake. Many fake accounts do an excellent job of disguising themselves, to the point where users may have a hard time determining if the account is fake.
There are certain indicators that can help an individual determine the truth behind a Twitter account. Start by looking at when the account was formed because this could show that it was formed right as individuals were searching for a certain topic. For example, individuals were questioning whether or not BCPS would close schools, and then discovered the newly created @bcpsnews on Twitter.
Many fake accounts do an excellent job of disguising themselves, to the point where users may have a hard time determining if the account is fake.
Another indicator is to look at the number of followers the account has. A low number of followers could indicate that the account is not viewed by many, bringing its credibility into question. Major accounts that have a blue check are verified by Twitter as authentic accounts. Searching the account on the internet is another great approach as it allows the user to either find more information about the account or find information stating the account is fake.
Although society today relies on instant, brief news, it is important to always be cautious of this news and know where it is coming from. There are too many instances when people fall for the information posted on fake Twitter accounts. To avoid falling into this category, stay informed, and always double-check your sources.
Photo by The Lariat Photography