Twitter apologized Tuesday for mistakenly verifying what was a fake account for Wendi Deng Murdoch, wife of News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, reports Reuters.
The fake account had the handle @Wendi_Deng and appeared on the social networking site on Sunday, soon after the media mogul had started a real account on New Year's Eve. News Corp communications staff had confirmed the Murdoch account was legitimate. Thus, Twitter verified the Wendi account and included its staple blue checkmark to confirm the validity of the individual.
However, by early Tuesday EST time, Twitter removed the blue checkmark from the Wendi account. We can confirm that the @Wendi_Deng account was mistakenly verified for a short period of time and apologize for the confusion this caused, Twitter said in a statement. Twitter spokesman Matt Graves declined to comment.
Reuters reported that the @Wendi_Deng account tweeted she was joining her husband on an adventure. The account began tweeting about Murdoch and mentioned celebrities like Piers Morgan and British entrepreneur Alan Sugar.
Over 48 hours, the @Wendi_Deng account garnered more than 10,000 followers. Murdoch himself had 95,000. Publications took the account seriously as well. The Guardian published an article entitled Wendi Deng flirts with Ricky Gervais after joining husband on Twitter and had to subsequently issue an apology.
The fake account verification was even backed by a public relations executive at News Corp's London-based News International, who also confirmed the @Wendi_Deng account as real to reporters.
The individual behind the account, who has yet to reveal his or her identity, had some choice words for Twitter. And you have to wonder even more why Twitter verified this account for a full day. I never received any communication from them about this, the user tweeted.
Wendi Deng is Rupert Murdoch's third wife. She received her master's degree from Yale School of Management and heads Murdoch's Chinese media investments. She met Murdoch in 1997 and they married in 1999. She most famously made headlines during the News Corp phone hacking hearing when she attempted to physically defend her husband after a man threw a pie in his face.