Twitter Outlines Updated Verification Guidelines Ahead of the Re-Opening of Public Applications

Ever wanted to get your own verification tick for your Twitter profile?

Today, Twitter has announced that it’s re-opening public applications for account verification next month, an option which has been on hiatus since 2017.

As per Twitter:

We’re excited to relaunch public applications for verification in 2021 through a new, self-serve application process that will be available on the Account Settings page on the web and in-app. The process will include asking applicants to select a category for their verified status and confirming their identity via links and other supporting materials.”

The new option will be added to your account settings sometime in January, via staged roll-out.

So, now you can go ahead and apply for your own tick. But wait one second. You can’t just be any ol’ chump. You’ll still have to provide some reason as to why you should be verified. And it can’t be ‘because I really want it’. 

Last month, Twitter put out a call for feedback on potential revisions to its verification policies, which, unsurprisingly, received some 22k responses. People are crazy keen about verification, as if it somehow validates their online existence (just ask any prominent social media commentator about how many DMs they get relating to verification). 

Based on these many suggestions, Twitter has revised its official verification policy, which, at present, relates to users who fall into six categories.

Twitter verification

As you can see, those categories are:

  1. Government
  2. Companies, Brands and Organizations
  3. News Organizations and Journalists
  4. Entertainment
  5. Sports and Gaming
  6. Activists, Organizers, and Other Influential Individuals

If you fall into one of these segments, and you’re a prominently recognized individual, or are associated with a prominent brand, you may be eligible for verification. Which still seems a little problematic – not in this specific application, nor in the updated guidelines, but in regards to what the verification tick now represents more broadly.

As noted, Twitter put its public verification requests on hold back in 2017 due to internal confusion around who should be verified, or not, which lead to people getting the blue tick under vastly different criteria. That means that some people who are currently verified absolutely wouldn’t meet these new requirements, but Twitter won’t be removing their badge.

Which will mean that some confusion will remain – “why has this guy with 200 followers, who I’ve never heard of, got a verification badge, when this prominent industry person has been rejected for the same?”

Basically, Twitter is fixing its verification policies from here on in, making it clearer as to which accounts are eligible. But really, it should also retrospectively review its current verified accounts against the same criteria for total clarity.

But then again, people change jobs – users who were once working in prominent roles may move on, which would still lead to some level of confusion. As such, it’s probably unavoidable to some degree.

Regardless, these new regulations are what you now need to meet, so there’s no point comparing yourself to others who’ve been verified who you might think you’re more deserving than.

Twitter verification

Twitter says that it will use both automated and human review processes to ensure that it’s reviewing applications “thoughtfully and in a timely manner”.

“We also plan to give people the option to share demographic information after completing the new verification application so that we can better measure and improve the equity of our verification process.”

Twitter does also note that it will start removing verification badges from some accounts which are either inactive or incomplete, based on the new criteria.

“If your account is at risk of losing its verified badge, you’ll receive an automated email and an in-app notification informing you of what changes need to avoid automatic removal of your blue verified badge. As long as you make those changes before January 20, 2021, your account will not lose its badge. We are not planning to automatically remove the verified badge from inactive accounts of people who are no longer living, and are working on building a way to memorialize these accounts in 2021.”

Which is the other element Twitter is now working on – in addition to its new verification process, Twitter’s also looking to add new badge types to signify bot and memorialized accounts.

Twitter verification

Twitter flagged its coming badge for bot accounts in October 2019, which could end up being a significant element, depending on how it’s applied.

Twitter has provided these descriptions of the two categories:

  • Automated Accounts – Accounts that post to Twitter automatically, also called bots, can bring a lot of value to the service when they share things like earthquake reports or self care reminders. But it can be confusing to people if it’s not clear that these accounts are automated. In 2021, we’re planning to build a new account type to distinguish automated accounts from human-run accounts to make it easier for people to know what’s a bot and what’s not.
  • Memorial Accounts – We know how important it is to preserve a Twitter account in memory of someone who has passed and we’ve talked about building Memorial Accounts before. In 2021, we’re planning to build a new account type specifically designed for memorialized accounts. This will also come with an updated policy for memorialization and a new application flow to request the memorialization of an account. 

​​Bots have long been a problem on the platform, particularly within political debate. Back in 2018, a report found that bot Twitter profiles were dominating political news discussion, and amplifying trends, with bot profiles contributing up to 60% of tweet activity around some events. Further studies have found similar, with massive swarms of bot accounts being employed for malicious purpose – in particular, to amplify certain political messages, and drown out opposing views through mass retweeting.

But if those accounts were clearly marked as bots, that could get more users to think twice about engaging with them, and the messages that they’re sharing. As such, this could be an impactful change, which could have a big impact on overall tweet engagement.

So, account verification is back, and if you fit the bill you can apply. Twitter doesn’t provide any guarantees around making it through the process, nor any advice on how to ensure approval. And it’s setting itself up for a massive task, given the influx of applications it’s about to receive, but with new automated tools in place, it might be able to lessen the load, and concentrate on the most likely candidates for human review.

You can read Twitter’s new verification policy here.

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