CHICAGO (WGN-TV) — As Twitter strips away its system for verifying accounts, opportunists are jumping-in and impersonating elected officials and city agencies.
An account posing as the Chicago Department of Transportation falsely claimed, “We’re excited to announce that beginning 5/2/23, North DuSable Lake Shore Drive will be closed to private vehicles between Grand and Hollywood. Only buses, delivery vehicles, and emergency vehicles will be allowed. This is a huge step forward!”
The tweet was shared more than 180 times and seen by nearly 158,000 people as of noon Friday.
The false claims were then amplified by another fake account posing as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, complete with an official portrait of the mayor.
“My administration is proud to announce the single largest decarbonization effort in the history of Chicago,” the fake account claimed above the untrue news about the closure of one of Chicago’s biggest boulevards.
Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Sheridan, who first flagged the accounts, included a screenshot of the fake Lightfoot account. Now that Twitter has removed blue checkmarks from official accounts the only way to tell it’s fake is to notice one extra “s” in the Twitter handle.
“We are aware of the fake Twitter accounts, and our team is working with Twitter to resolve this matter,” tweeted mayoral spokesperson Ryan Johnson. “Users can verify official City accounts by visiting: chi.gov/social.”
The fake Lightfoot account has been removed, however, the fake CDOT account remained active as of noon Friday.
The person behind the fake CDOT account responded to an inquiry from WGN by tweeting: “We are not an organization. We represent the collective demands of Chicagoans who don’t think there should be a highway on our Lakefront, polluting it, drastically increasing noise, and increasing traffic violence.”