Twitter will begin its public verifying program again, having hit pause on the controversial process three years ago amid confusion around what the blue check actually means. Currently, some Twitter users are tagged with a blue check-mark badge, which the social network uses to flag those accounts that are authentic.
Exactly how you get that mark of authenticity, however, was long mired in uncertainty. Initially, Twitter judged who should and should not be verified internally, according to its own – unpublished – criteria. As demands for transparency increased, it opened a new verification process in which companies, organizations, and individuals could apply to be verified.
At the same time, though, verification has also been used as a sort of punishment. Some users have been stripped of their blue tick after contravening Twitter rules, for example. Twitter has also removed the mark after verified users change their username. The shut-down of public applications hasn’t meant verification itself stopped, either, with Twitter still adding the blue badge to some users in the intervening period.
“We plan to relaunch verification, including a new public application process, in early 2021,” the company confirmed today. “But first, we need to update our verification policy with your help. This policy will lay the foundation for future improvements by defining what verification means, who is eligible for verification and why some accounts might lose verification to ensure the process is more equitable.”
Twitter first plans to better define the types of “Notable Account” that are eligible for verification. That will include government; companies, brands, and non-profit organizations; news; entertainment; sports; and activists, organizers, and other influential individuals.
The company says it’s hoping users will fill in a survey on how the verification process should be operated. It’s also working with non-governmental organizations, among others, for further perspectives on the matter.
As for how you might lose the verification mark, that could be done automatically according to newly proposed rules. If a profile is inactive, or incomplete, it could be stripped of verification. Meanwhile, accounts that regularly flout the social network’s rules could lose their verified status, too.
“We recognize that there are many verified accounts on Twitter who should not be,” Twitter said today. “We plan to start by automatically removing badges from accounts that are inactive or have incomplete profiles to help streamline our work and to expand this to include additional types of accounts over the course of 2021.”
Meanwhile, the blue tick isn’t the only change to profiles that Twitter has in mind. “Heading into 2021, we’re committed to giving people more ways to identify themselves, such as new account types and labels,” the company says, though we’ll have to wait to find out exactly what that means.