Fake X Account With Grey Checkmark Sparks Row With EAC Over SHEAFRA Currency

Earlier on Sunday, the EAC secretariat informed all stakeholders that works were still ongoing regarding the transition to the singular currency

Fake X Account With Grey Checkmark Sparks Row With EAC Over SHEAFRA Currency
The Sheafra currency (SHF5) for East African Community (EAC) which has since been flagged as fake. /X.JUMUIYA

A fake account on X named Government of East Africa on Monday, March 4 denounced a statement by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat which clarified that the community was yet to launch a unified currency known as the Shilling of East Africa and Franc (SHEAFRA).

Earlier on Sunday, the EAC secretariat informed all stakeholders that works were still ongoing regarding the transition to the singular currency and at the same time dismissed the unveiling of banknotes containing six denominations.

"The EAC Secretariat wishes to inform all our stakeholders that the Partner States' journey to a single currency is still a work in progress.

"Kindly ignore any rumours circulating in social media on the unveiling of new banknotes for the region," stated EAC.

Image of East African Community (EAC) headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. /X.JUMUIYA

However, the fake account which bore a grey checkmark for government organisations hit back with a self-crafted statement declining the secretariat's response over what the account termed as its allegations.

"We Decline Response over your Allegations Not Until our EAC-IPU Executive Board team's Clandestine Consultations from the Heads of State of East Africa, One by One are Concluded.

"Research the Word Fake and get to know its meaning. Words of Jealousy. We are God's Chosen. We only fight Spiritual Wars, in other words, God fights for us," read its response which has been edited to clear the glaring grammatical and spelling errors.

The counter-statement was not received well by other netizens on the platform who accused the account of being unprofessional and abusing the credibility status of the grey checkmark.

The account shared on Saturday, March 2 the specimen of a 5 SHEAFRA note saying "The East African Sheafra of SHF.5 Currency Note of fuv5 has finally Landed", adding that the currency would help bolster the regional economy and one SHEAFRA would be valued at $0.76.

The post however raised eyebrows and saw the account met with a barrage of questions as many users questioned its legitimacy and even the criteria behind choosing the currency's name.

The alleged 'government of East Africa' then went on a spree of posting the note with different captions that were each met with mixed reactions.

"The East African Sheafra (SHF) is here a Unifying factor for the East African Monetary balances and Economic Equilibrium. We're God Chosen," read one subsequent post.

Another one read: "The East African Sheafra is a God Chosen Currency, let's bear with it and embrace it, for with God, we do operate in his own Wisdom, knowledge and Understanding. Let's give God a chance to lead so that we may not delay."

Such was the perceived credibility of the account that its announcement caught many media houses unaware. Its grey tick is a verification mark by X reserved for government institutions and officials, whereas the official X page used by the East Africa Community which runs under the handle jumuiya is not verified by X.

While it is not the first time this social media page reported about the ‘new currency’, this is the first time that the account has managed to become viral with over 600,000 views on the post and enhanced media amplification.

Since January 2024, the page verified as a government organization of a non-existing government, the Federal Republic of East Africa, has been sharing similar kinds of posts on the new currency.

The page has a network of other pages which run as the East African Community Interruling Party Union, which in this work of fiction serves as the union of the ruling parties that run the federation. The pages include EAC_IPU, EAC_IPU_UG, EAC_IPU_BUR, EACIPUSomalia, EAC_IPU_Ke and EAC_IPU_BUR.

In maintaining its active status, the page has been retweeting several official news from the government in East Africa and also comments on current affairs. The page has also been posting about upcoming plans including the announcement of the Government of Federal Republic of East Africa, its plan to engage the media, and on December 15, 2023, it tried to host a public talk on X space.

The saga serves as a clear example of how the verification status which was a prized reserve for eligible profiles can be bought by a subscription thanks to Elon Musk's X Premium subscription model, allowing propagators of fake news to take advantage of the loopholes in the current model.

Businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations have their tailored checkmark on X that is much more expensive than an individual account blue tick. Verified organizations in Kenya must pay a monthly X Premium subscription fee of Ksh131,300 to get one and Ksh6,570 for each additional handle.

Read also: How Several Kenyans With Twitter Blue Ticks Could Spread Fake News

Getting verified by subscribing to X Premium opens networking opportunities and increases brand visibility, given that it boosts the organic reach of posts, making them appear in most users’ X media timelines for many likes and reposts. In other words, one X post can make you go viral.

With fake news merchants now opting to ignore the high costs and acquire the verification status to mislead members of the public, this could accelerate the new age of misinformation and disinformation since "Verified Brayo (Brian) tweeted that so it must be true of what he is saying" at a time whereby anyone with access to a phone can be a citizen journalist at will, without the required skills and training in journalism.

An image of gold checkmarks on Twitter (now X) accounts. /TWITTER