The coveted blue badge will soon be within reach. Twitter announced that it will begin rolling out its new verification app system, which allows public figures and other high-interest accounts to distinguish themselves with a verification mark that indicates they are who they say they are, such as a government official, journalist, celebrity, brand or business, or other notable name.
Over the next few weeks, Twitter will begin displaying the new verification application directly in the Account Settings tab to all users globally. After submitting the request, an email response will be received in one to four weeks, depending on how many open applications are in the queue at the time.
Applications are processed by a newly expanded team at Twitter, not automated, so things can slow down at peak times. If approved, you’ll receive the profile badge automatically. And if denied, you can reapply 30 days after receiving Twitter’s decision. However, there is no limit on the number of times you can resubmit an application.
The return of verification will greatly expand access to the blue badge that only about 360,000 Twitter users have today.
The system officially stopped in 2017 as the company grappled with consumer confusion over what it meant to be verified. While the verification mark was only meant to serve as an indicator that someone’s account was authentic, many considered badge holders to have some sort of elevated status on the Twitter platform.
This problem came to a head when it was discovered that Twitter had verified the account of Jason Keller, the person who organized the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, even as genuinely noteworthy people were fighting to have their own accounts verified.
Although Twitter continued to quietly verify candidates running for public office, officials, journalists and others in the years that followed, there was no longer an “official” means of requesting verification.
In late 2020, Twitter finally announced that it would relaunch account verifications in early 2021 and submitted a draft of its policy for public comment. Although Twitter is lagging a bit, it is reopening applications and releasing its new guidelines, which were virtually unchanged from their initial release.
Going forward, to qualify for verification, Twitter users must meet criteria in one of six categories: Government; Businesses, brands and organizations; News organizations and journalists; Entertainment; Sports and gaming; Activists, organizers and other influencers.
These categories are just the beginning, says Twitter. It will later expand verification to include scientists, academics and religious leaders. To be verified, an account must first establish its authenticity by providing a photo of an official government-issued ID, or by providing an official email address relevant to the chosen category, or an official website that references the Twitter account.
Each of the specified categories has its own sets of rules about what qualifies a person for verification. While these are too extensive to detail, there are a few rules worth highlighting. For example, journalists must adhere to professional standards, such as fact-checking, to qualify. Being listed in professional databases, such as IMDb or Sportradar, can help with verification for those in entertainment or gaming. And being mentioned by verified press in news articles can help brands and many people qualify.
The full rules are quite detailed, and particularly when it comes to the general category of “other influential individuals.” Twitter created a system that requires a combination of criteria related to both Twitter activity and off-site notoriety to be considered noteworthy.
For example, a stable Wikipedia article, a profile on Google Trends, mentions in news stories or being listed among the leaders on an official website with “known advocacy work” can help influencers qualify, along with at least one indication of being influential on Twitter. This includes meeting a threshold for follower count or activity on the site, as defined by the social network’s criteria.
Twitter says it will hold verified accounts accountable for their tweets. In addition to having to follow the rules like everyone else, verified accounts that do not comply will be stripped of their badge. This penalty can be determined on a case-by-case basis, Twitter says. A strong infraction could result in immediate removal of the badge, but other infractions may not involve the same action.
Verified accounts must also have a “full” profile, meaning profile name, image and a confirmed email or phone number. The account must also have been active within the last six months and there cannot be a Twitter rule violation within the last 12 months that resulted in a seven-day or 12-hour block.
Twitter says verification is just one of the ways it is changing how profiles work on its platform. In the future, it will introduce new ways to designate other types of accounts, including “helpful” bots: automated accounts that provide useful information, such as COVID-19 updates or earthquake warnings, for example; or those that use Twitter creatively.
Later, Twitter will address the handling of memorial accounts. But these changes will be about adding designations, not verification. Twitter says it will continue to update and audit its policies around these areas as it moves forward with public apps for verification and other new features.
“People come to Twitter to read about what’s happening with current events, global pandemic elections and other government conversations taking place on a variety of topics and interests,” said B Byrne, Twitter’s identity-focused product leader, speaking to reporters about the changes. “The verified blue badge gives people on Twitter more context about who they are interacting with. They can determine whether content is trustworthy and make their own decisions regarding the sources they choose to follow, which we believe leads to healthier, more informed conversations.”