How to identify fake Twitter accounts?

Identifying fake Twitter accounts used to be much easier when eggheads and bot replies were plentiful. But with verification now up for sale, a flood of fake accounts impersonating public figures and brands overtook Twitter, and it became difficult to distinguish between real people and fake accounts with paid verification.

Here are some simple ways to identify a fake Twitter account.

Check the account profile

A real user will usually have an interesting bio, profile picture and posts, not just retweets. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and a celebrity user's profile may be very simple.

However, if the bio is one sentence long and contains common phrases like "social media influencer" or if they are promoting something that doesn't quite make sense, then you may be suspicious.

Check how they got verified

With verification being handed out to every Twitter Blue user who verifies a number, identifying a fake account can be even harder. The blue checkmark used to indicate authenticity, but now it may just mean the person has paid for a subscription.

The good news is that you can still get some clues about their verification. If the account has a blue checkmark, click on it and see what info comes up. If the account has been verified by Twitter and not purchased then you can be confident that it is a genuine account.

Look for a bio

Fake or bot accounts often forgo the inclusion of a bio, personal information that appears on a profile page below an account's username. This underutilized real estate is key to informing your followers (or potential followers) who you are and what you're about. Skipping over this is typically a sign of not only laziness, but a tell-tale sign the account is almost certainly fake.

Prominent users, however, almost always include a tagline or resume as part of their profile.

Check the tweeting activity

When you find multiple accounts with the same name, how do you know which is genuine? Fake accounts often lack activity, so look at how frequently they are tweeting. It's also important to check the content of the tweets and whether the user is engaging with other users.

Real users will usually be involved in conversations, responding to and retweeting content from other users. Fake accounts tend to have a lot of one-way communication, with few (if any) replies or engagement with other users.

The content they share is also important. Accounts that primarily post links to clickbait websites or content that look suspicious are probably not authentic.

Look at who they follow/who follows them

If an account follows hundreds of other accounts but has very few followers itself, then this could be another sign that it may not be genuine.

Additionally, if all the people who follow them seem like bots (i.e., names with random numbers), then this too could point towards a scammer or troll trying to gain attention through illegitimate means.