Twitter verifies fake Congressional candidate

Occurred: February 2020

A 17 year-old high school student successfully tricked Twitter into verifying a fake candidate for the US presidential elections, raising questions about the effectiveness of the company's election integrity programme, and demonstrating the ease with which social media can be manipulated.

According to CNN Business, the student created 'Andrew Walz', a Congressional candidate supposedly running for office in Rhode Island by downloading a profile picture from Thispersondoesnotexist, a website that uses AI to generate faces of fake people. 

The student then submitted Walz's details to Ballotpedia, a non-profit partner of Twitter that calls itself 'the encyclopedia of American politics.' The profile was approved, with neither Twitter nor Ballotpedia asking for identification or documentation to prove that Walz was a real candidate.

Twitter suspended the account after CNN Business contacted it about the fake account.   

Operator: Twitter; Ballotpedia
Developer: Anonymous/pseudonymous

Country: USA

Sector: Politics

Purpose: 'Test Twitter elections integrity efforts' 

Technology: Deepfake - image; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Mis/disinformation; Ethics

Transparency: Governance; Marketing