Twitter has disclosed that it plans to relaunch its public verification program in early 2021. Interestingly, the company is requesting feedback from the public regarding the new draft of its verification policy.
The new development comes three years after the microblogging platform suspended applications for verifications in 2017 owing to backlash from several users as Twitter had verified the account of Jason Keller, who led the fatal white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Following the widespread call among users for a clear and coherent policy, Twitter decided to halt all account verifications.
That said, according to the new verification policy draft, Twitter will be awarding its blue verified badge to only accounts which are notable and active.
Notable accounts include those belonging to government officials/institutions, prominent corporations, executives, reputable news media/journalists, sports professionals as well as activists and other influential individuals who generally abide by the Twitter rules. Active accounts must be complete and consistently used.
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Ineligible accounts include parody accounts and those associated with groups or individuals found to have violated human rights by an authorised international court or institution.
Reactions and Feedback
A number of Twitter users have called for Twitter to add Identity Cards to the requirements for a successful verification process for individual accounts, whether they are notable or not.
Trolls are a constant nuisance to twitter users, with many parody accounts causing online conflicts and stirring up tensions due to unscrupulous posts in the name of the accounts mimicked.
I am so tired of @Twitter not doing anything about scammers impersonating me. Why is it so hard for a $35 billion company to verify people? Can’t you create an ID upload portal or pay a support team?”Gabor Gurbacs on twitter
Rob Palmer on twitter maintained that this would help oust troll accounts which could end up being verified due to their large following.
Duncan Kimpton also added, “I would value a ‘real person’ category. Just ordinary folk who have verified via a legal document (e.g. passport, id card) that they are an actual person & anything they post can be clearly tracked back to them.”
Locking down Display Names and Profile Pictures
Some Twitter users opine that the display names and profile pictures of verified accounts should be locked down to prevent account owners from easily changing names and confusing other users. While Twitter does not allow for a change in usernames, account holders may change display names.
Henry on Twitter cited the instance where Britain’s Conservative Party had misled a lot of people after changing its display name to “factcheckUK” during a political debate.
Other people suggested that Twitter gets rid of the whole verification policy, with some stating that the blue badge has created a significant social class divide among users. These users want Twitter to either verify every user or otherwise scrap verification totally.
Twitter user, Matthew Bischoff echoed Chris Maytag’s sentiments saying: “Either get rid of them entirely or give anyone who wants to verify their identity and follow the rules a checkmark. It shouldn’t be an elitist value judgement of someone’s “notability”, it should just be a signal of confirmed identity or it shouldn’t exist.”
It appears that these users are not impressed with Twitter’s notable classification which to them puts the average unpopular user at a disadvantage due to perceived lesser status.
While Twitter is opening up applications for new verifications next year, the company has also stated that account verifications are revocable and that its blue badge can be removed at any time and without notice.
Account activities that would warrant a lost verification include a change in username, impersonation as well as severe or repeated violations of Twitter rules such as promoting hateful conduct, abusive behaviour or inciting violence.