Facebook faux pas: Social media giant violates own rules, verifies dubious Elon Musk fan page

By: |
November 02, 2021 1:49 PM

To be verified, a user needs to fill out a form that requires official identification such as passport, driver’s licence, tax filing, utility bill, or articles of incorporation.

Elon Musk 02 (Reuters)Social media platforms have always faced verification challenges. (Reuters)

Facebook’s new journey as a Meta brand got off to a stuttering start after the social network violated its own policies to verify a fan page of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, The Verge reported.

The page with 153,000 followers has since become inaccessible. It remains unclear if Facebook took the page down or the owners made it unavailable.

The page made no pretence about belonging to Musk and made it clear in the About section that it was a fan account. “Musk owns a Tesla Roadster car 0001 (the first one off the production line) from Tesla Motors, a company in which he is an early investor. The Roadster is a battery electric sportscar with a 220 mile range,” the page’s About section read.

“This is a fanpage, uploading tweets etc from him.”

The page had only 10 posts, the earliest being from October 21, when the story broke. One of the posts was a picture of Musk, one a notification that it had updated its profile picture, while the rest seemed to be reposts of Musk’s recent tweets.

Also Read | Facebook changes its name to ‘Meta’: Five key things you must know

However, the page didn’t start off as a fan page for Musk. The Verge trawled the Page Transparency tab, which shows a page’s history, who manages it, and whether it runs ads for more details. The probe revealed that the page was created on July 28, 2019, for “Kizito Gavin” — the reversed name of footballer Gavin Kizito.

The page has undergone six name changes, all in 2021. On October 17, it changed its name twice — both times to Elon Musk twice. The Page Transparency section also showed that the page was managed out of Egypt while the billionaire investor lives in Texas.

It is still unclear when Facebook verified the page.

Facebook verifies pages as official after it has “confirmed that the Page or profile is the authentic presence of the public figure or brand it represents”, according to its rules. To be verified, a user needs to fill out a form that requires official identification such as passport, driver’s licence, tax filing, utility bill, or articles of incorporation.

Social media platforms have always faced verification challenges. In 2017, Twitter paused the verification programme before relaunching it earlier this year. The relaunch has also been bumpy with the company admitting that it had mistakenly verified some fake accounts.

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