How Twitter Accidentally Verified the Wrong Wendi Deng

After breaking the story of Yahoo naming its new CEO, AllThingsD's Kara Swisher figured out exactly how Twitter ended up accidentally verifying a fake Wendi Deng Twitter account, and it's not what you think.

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After breaking the story of Yahoo naming its new CEO, AllThingsD's Kara Swisher figured out exactly how Twitter ended up accidentally verifying a fake Wendi Deng Twitter account, and it's not what you think. Because Twitter doesn't want to talk about the screw up, we sort of assumed that a young Twitter staffer ("Junior Account Verifier" is the job title we imagined them having, for some reason) either wasn't paying attention or went rogue in order to play a big prank on Rupert Murdoch, thus verifying a fake account. That's not at all what happened:

As it turned out, according to sources close to the situation, it was a crime of punctuation — specifically an underscore that should not have been there. …

As a courtesy, Twitter also moved to verify Murdoch’s spouse’s account and that is when an apparent Internet copy-editing scandal was born. Since the information exchange was done over a hurried holiday weekend, several sources on both sides said there was a miscommunication and the company mangled the @ address it was told by Deng’s assistant. Mistakenly, Twitter apparently thought that the correct account was the one with the underscore and not the one with no space at all.

Don't get too excited and go looking for tweets from the real Wendi Deng. The account no longer exists. Fake Wendi Deng, however, has been tweeting prolifically since its little stunt yielded thousands of Twitter followers, though only 9,100 are left after news broke that it was a spoof account. The semi-anonymous tweeter behind @Wendi_Deng will be thrilled to finally know the answer to a question he or she asked just an hour ago:

And the account is still trolling Rupert Murdoch:

Update: Just a few minutes after Swisher posted her story, Fake Wendi Deng retired:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.