Eli Lilly has become the first Big Pharma to fall victim to the uptick of fake Twitter handles that are cropping up under the new Twitter Blue paid accounts that Elon Musk recently pushed through. A user pretending to be the Indianapolis company tweeted out a message, saying: “We are excited to announced insulin is free now.”
Released yesterday, Nov. 10, under the username @EliLillyandCo, the fake message hit more than 1,500 retweets and 11,000 likes in just a few hours. The tweet at first glance looks like a real message from Lilly, as it comes with a blue check next to its name—a mark that’s been synonymous with verified accounts.
Before the sale of Twitter to billionaire businessman Musk last month for $44 billon, Twitter staff verified users after several reviews. Musk, however, has changed up the Twitter Blue program. Now, if you pay $8 a month, you can subscribe to Twitter and gain a verified check with little to no oversight, something @EliLillyandCo has seemingly taken advantage of.
The real Eli Lilly account is, of course, @LillyPad. Companies rarely get directly involved with fake accounts, but this tweet blew up so quickly that Lilly’s social media team was forced to issue a reply on Twitter.
“We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account. Our official Twitter account is @LillyPad.”
A spokesperson for Eli Lilly, one of the largest producers of insulin in the world, told The Washington Post on Thursday that the company is “in communication with Twitter to address the issue” but gave no other updates.
Lilly's shares took a battering the day after the tweetm dropping more than 6% and wiping billions of dollars from its market cap. A similar but less severe stock drop happened to fellow insulin makers Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, with commentators suggesting that the false tweet did much to reignite the debate around insulin pricing, negatively hitting investor sentiment.