Twitter’s verification gives blue tick badges to signify legitimate accounts that belong to public figures. The badge gives credibility to tweets coming from accounts that claim to be involved to a company or the government or an entity that gathers public interest. The verification system was paused in 2017 but the company has announced the intention to bring it back in 2021. Twitter will initially focus on verifying six types of accounts, including those belonging to government officials; companies, brands and nonprofit organizations; news; entertainment; sports; and activists, organizers and other influential individuals. This number of categories could expand in time.
In 2017, Twitter closed the system after verification of Jason Keller, the person behind the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Expectedly, people reacted negatively and it led to a wave of criticism. The company tried to justify its actions by saying that verifications are awarded to accounts of “public interest” but tweeps argued that a known white supremacist shouldn’t be put in that category, this ultimately led to the system’s closure.
Despite the 2017 pause, a few special accounts have been verified, these accounts belong to candidates participating in the 2020 US elections and known experts in the health sector who were providing COVID – 19 related updates.
The system is now set to resume to the general public but with new guidelines. The new policies were outlined in an official draft that Twitter wants the public to go through and provide feedback starting this week to December 8th, 2020.The company also chose an official hashtag to contribute on the matter #VerificationFeedback, alternatively, you can fill in a survey.
There were some standout points on the draft, for example, only notable and active accounts will be considered for verification. Accounts with incomplete profile information will not be considered. It goes without saying, accounts that repeatedly violate Twitter Rules will not be considered / will lose their verification.
The draft illustrates more ways to get verification, for example news organizations will have to adhere to professional standards for journalism, and independent or freelance journalists will need to provide at least three bylines in qualifying organizations published in the last six months. Entertainers will need to be able to point to credits on their IMDb page or to references in verified news publications. Government officials will need to show a public reference on an official government website, party website or multiple references by news media. Sports figures will have to appear on team websites, rosters or in sports data services like Sportradar. There are more ways to be verified in these categories, all indicated in the draft.
Changes will be made to the draft as suggested by the public and the final version will be available from December 17th, 2020. Finally, it seems Twitter is working on an in app “Request Verification” feature, some users have seen it appear on their settings, if at all it ends up in the public domain it will show up no sooner than 2021.