Startup News & Analysis

Twitter crackdown is targeting Bitcoin scams run by Elon Musk impersonators

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

The latest Elon Musk Twitter debacle doesn’t actually involve the billionaire Tesla founder getting himself into trouble. Instead, Twitter is shutting down any unverified accounts using the entrepreneur’s name, in a bid to crack down on cryptocurrency scams.

According to a report from The Verge, the measures come in response to a growing number of spam bots posting replies to Musk’s own tweets, posing as the entrepreneur and posting links to a site seemingly offering free cryptocurrency.

In one example, a Twitter user going by the handle @elomtusk, but using the name Elon Musk and the real Musk’s Twitter profile picture, responded to Musk’s recent apology for branding one of the Thai cave rescuers a “pedo”.

After Musk’s genuine apology tweet, the fraudster posted a now-deleted reply, posing as Musk, saying that by way of apology, he was launching a “special event”. This was followed by a link purporting to lead to a cryptocurrency giveaway event.

Musk himself appears to be aware of the problem, and has even praised the scammer for their “mad skills”.

The Twitter crackdown will target any account that has Elon Musk as the name, which is not verified. However, it’s main aim is to stop spam bots and fraudulent accounts, and if users can complete a Captcha test and add a phone number to their account, they will be free to continue using Musk’s name.

“As part of our continuing efforts to combat spam and malicious activity on our service, we’re testing new measures to challenge accounts that use terms commonly associated with spam campaigns. We are continually refining these detections based on changes in spammy activity,” a Twitter statement said.

This news follows a spate of high-profile Australians being targeted with fake Bitcoin advertisements.

Earlier this year, a spate of fake ads appeared online, claiming investors on Network Ten’s Shark Tank Glen Richards and Steve Baxter had engaged in a bidding war over online Bitcoin trading business Bitcoin Trader.

Network Ten later took action, warning viewers to steer clear of the ads.

However, Twitter’s crackdown also follows an increasingly erratic tweeting spree from Musk, who, as well as launching an attack on the cave diver, has also been involved in Twitter rows about a farting unicorn mug, AI, and even the merits of public transport.

NOW READ: Thou shalt not tweet in anger

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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