This new “blue” people goes away on Thursday so to speak. On that day, the Twitter account @EliLillyandCo posted: “We are delighted to announce that insulin is now free”. At the time, this account had one of those blue checkmarks next to its name suggesting that Twitter had already verified its authenticity as the real deal, the real Eli Lilly and Company. Distributing free insulin may have seemed like great news to the more than seven million people in the United States who take insulin regularly every day for diabetes. After all, free is a great price for a drug that has skyrocketed in price over the past decade to over $1,000 a month for some without health insurance.
Well, the whole thing didn’t quite check out in the end. Turns out @EliLillyandCo was actually a fake Eli Lilly account. Eli Lilly and Company’s real Twitter account, @LillyPad, tried to clear the air later that day because the drug company wasn’t about to give away its product for free:
So how did @EliLillyandCo get the blue check if it wasn’t the real deal? Well, since billionaire Elon Musk closed the $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter on October 28, there have been a few changes. Most previous leaders have gone the way of a pile of potatoes, which means they were sacked by Musk. He was also fired as half of Twitter’s workforce because he could. And on Nov. 5, Twitter, fresh under Musk, changed its blue checkmark policy through a subscription service called Twitter Blue. Before you have to, you know, provide proof that you are legitimately who you claim to be to get a blue tick next to your name. Instead, the new blue Twitter service allowed you or any other person or bot to get a blue check just if you were willing to pay $8 a month. So if you wanted to pretend you were a hot dog teacher, PhD, you could with a blue checkmark on Twitter to support your claim, as long as you could contribute $8 a month. The same would apply if someone wanted to pretend to be you and pretend they were blue. Talk about establishing legitimacy to sell.
Yeah, file that Musk-y decision in the blue category. Shortly after Twitter Blue, a number of fake accounts got blue ticks and took their blue in an attempt to wreak havoc. For example, a fake Lockheed Martin account claimed the company was stopping gun sales in certain countries, and a fake LeBron James account claimed the NBA star was asking for a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. Also, a verified Twitter account impersonating former US President George W. Bush with the handle @GeorgeWBushs who tweeted “I miss killing Iraqis” with a sad face emoji. Then there was OJ, or rather a fake OJ Simpson account, @ThaReal0J32, who tweeted what appeared to be a confession before being deleted. This fake account used a “Tha” rather than the “the” used by the real OJ Simpson account, @TheReal0J32, who, by the way, hasn’t yet gotten a Twitter blue tick. In other words, a fake OJ Simpson account received a blue tick even before the real one did.
The @EliLillyandCo handle wasn’t the only account impersonating Eli Lilly and Company in getting that previously coveted blue tick from Twitter. There was another “padded” account, namely @LillyPadCo, who managed to tweet, “Humalog is now worth $400. We can do it whenever we want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Suck it,” according to Pete Syme writing for the Initiated. The giveaway was that it’s not that common for drug companies to say “suck it up” unless they’re talking about cough drops. Imagine what would have happened if @EliLillyandCo and @LillyPadCo had been a bit more subtle in tweeting misinformation that appeared more accurately on blue.
Incidentally, the day after the fake insulin tweets were posted by Eli Lilly’s fake accounts, Eli Lilly’s stock price fell 4.37% or $16.08 to 352.30. $, as blue ticked creative and political activist Rafael Shimunov pointed out:
And podcaster Robert Evans, who didn’t have a blue tick and therefore isn’t really Robert Evans or didn’t want to pay $8, tweeted:
Are fake Twitter accounts responsible for the stock price drop? Hard to say. Many things can affect a company’s stock price. Heck, GameStop’s stock price skyrocketed in 2021 after people on Reddit and other online forums noticed hedge funds were placing billions of dollars in short trades against the company. Online investors then began investing in the company to drive GameStop shares from around $17 to over $500 to presumably “lock in” the hedge funds shorting the stock. Either way, @LillyPad having to issue an “apology” for the actions of a fake account suggested that such impersonation left Eli Lilly and Company pretty blue, meaning not so happy.
You could say Musk has it “blue” by putting Twitter’s blue verification mark up for sale. Charging $8 a month for a blue checkmark probably won’t do much for Twitter’s debt. At the same time, it was kind of a beep for anyone who has proven themselves to be the rightful owners of their Twitter accounts over the years. It also opened the doors to even more misinformation and misinformation on Twitter. Moreover, it could even prevent billionaires from making even more money:
Now, Musk wouldn’t want to hurt billionaires, would he?
If you were Eli Lilly or OJ Simpson and called Twitter last week to inquire about fake Twitter-verified accounts, there’s no telling who you may have hooked up with. That’s because Musk apparently gutted Twitter’s communications department, as author Molly Knight tweeted:
Hmm, having no communication service after making a major change to the account verification system isn’t exactly the recipe for success, sad face emoji. Or maybe poop emoji. It certainly didn’t deserve an eggplant emoji. It’s a bit like eating a prune-flaxseed-flaxseed surprise casserole with coffee without checking that a bathroom is available and stocked with toilet paper.
So, no, the insulin didn’t go the way of the restaurant napkins. Eli Lilly and Company does not offer the drug for free. Quite the contrary, according to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who pointed out that the company has increased the price of insulin by more than 1200% since 1996:
It may be amazing what $8 can buy you on Twitter, but it probably won’t buy you much insulin.