Once the social network got in touch with Wendi Deng directly they knew that the account they had verified as belonging to her was fake.
It is understood that Twitter was in contact with Rupert Murdoch’s wife directly – as is routine when verifying accounts – at which point it would have become clear that the @wendi_deng account that had been marked as hers for 24 hours was in fact nothing of the sort.
The unfortunate episode throws a spotlight on Twitter’s verification process, which it uses to clamp down on the many thousands of imposters that feature on the social network.
Twitter launched its verified accounts programme more than two-and-a-half years ago in an effort to combat a rise in fake celebrity profiles.
It is not known how many verified accounts exist today, although an exponential rise in its number of users worldwide – from 17 million users at the end of 2009 to 100 million in December 2011 – meant that it had to close a verification scheme open to the general public.
The social network closely guards the process of its verification scheme, saying only that it “mistakenly” verified the @wendi_deng account for a short period, but declined to offer any detail about how the rare mistake was made.