Model Chrissy Teigen and singer John Legend got themselves dragged into the stupidest possible controversy this weekend when self-proclaimed “investigative journalist” and far-right activist Liz Crokin, who Twitter in their unending wisdom had decided to give a verified account, accused them of involvement in the debunked “Pizzagate” scandal.
On Saturday, Teigen posted that she was “pretty disturbed” at how quickly Crokin’s unfounded accusation that the celebrity couple was trafficking their child in a satanic D.C. pedophile ring had spread on the site. She specifically called out Twitter for handing a verified badge to Crokin, whose entire account seems devoted to accusing random people of sexually abusing children.
“Thank you, Twitter, for verifying somebody who is essentially accusing me (with pictures of my daughter) of child abuse and pedophilia to their 50,000 followers,” Teigen wrote.
Legend also joined in to threaten a lawsuit and warn one of the conspiracy theorists that “Y’all almost got someone killed,” referencing an incident in 2016 when a gunman who believed Pizzagate was real stormed and shot up a D.C.-area pizza restaurant.
Crokin later posted that Twitter had removed her verified badge, and several of the other Pizzagaters involved seem to have been subsequently banned or deleted their accounts after Teigen and Legend drew attention to them.
Twitter is still trying to dig itself out from under the mess it created with its verified accounts feature, which saw the site hand out fancy-looking badges to large numbers of people including a not-insignificant number of trolls, white supremacists, and conspiracy theorists. The site originally pitched it as a way to prevent impersonation, but over time it became clear that the badge was a sort of tacit Twitter endorsement of power users. Twitter has begun to backtrack and remove badges from offending accounts, but there’s still no clear solution coming.
Incidents like these certainly haven’t helped Twitter fight its reputation as a haven for harassment and bullying, or suspicions that it quietly tolerates such behavior in service of better metrics. Earlier this year, former employees close to Twitter’s product team told BuzzFeed the site was “basically built for maximum ease of trolling” and “a honeypot for assholes.” And while Twitter controversies like these may seem sort of dumb, they’re very unpleasant for users on the receiving end—and for every Teigen or Legend on the site, there’s a lot more people who don’t happen to be powerful celebrities having a bad time.