Twitter to Restart Verification Process (And Take Some Blue Checkmarks Away)

Twitter to Restart Verification Process (And Take Some Blue Checkmarks Away)

(Credit: Twitter)

Twitter will officially resume handing out verified badges to notable users early next year. But the company will also take some badges away. “We recognize that there are many verified accounts on Twitter who should not be,” the company wrote in a blog post.

On Tuesday, Twitter introduced the revamped policy that’ll guide the verification process after the program was somewhat frozen for three years. For now, the policy is simply a draft. “We want to ensure that, as an open service, our rules reflect the voices of the people who use Twitter,” Twitter says, so it’s soliciting feedback on the policy from now until Dec. 8. 

Why is the verified badge so important? The blue checkmark was created to indicate someone’s account is indeed real, and not an imposter. However, some people have viewed the badges as an endorsement from Twitter itself. This sparked a controversy in November 2017, when Twitter gave a verified badge to the organizer of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Facing outrage, the company hit pause on the verification program. Since then, Twitter has been quietly handing out badges to select users through backchannels. However, the public verification process was put on hold so the company could focus on securing the platform from election interference and misinformation. 

Twitter now says it's ready to relaunch the public, verified badge application process. But this time, the company plans on being more transparent about how the system works. Again, the badge is meant to only indicate an account of “public interest” is authentic. This includes users who are government officials, major company brands, artists, Hollywood actors, and professional athletes. 

According to the draft policy, Twitter will refuse to hand out badges to any accounts that have had a 12-hour or 7-day lockout for breaking the company’s rules.  

“You may lose your badge if you change your account name (@handle), if your account becomes inactive or incomplete, or if you are no longer in the position you initially were verified for—such as an elected government official who leaves office—and you do not otherwise meet our criteria for verification,” the policy adds.

The elephant in the room is how the proposed policy will impact outgoing President Donald Trump’s account once he leaves office on Jan. 20. The policy opens the door for Twitter to strip away Trump’s verified badge if he repeatedly violates the company’s rules against hate speech, abusive behavior, and the glorification of violence. (The same violations could also result in an account suspension.)

In the meantime, the company says "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."

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According to the revamped policy, media organizations and journalists can also receive a verified badge. But they must adhere to professional standards on journalism, "such as those laid out by the Society of Professional JournalistsIndependent Press Standards Organization."

Badges can also be given to “activists, organizers, and other influential figures” focused on trying to bring awareness. To determine who qualifies, Twitter will examine factors including whether the person received some media coverage, got a Wikipedia page, started a hashtag movement, or dominated the conversations occurring on Twitter. 

"We know we can’t solve verification with a new policy alone—and that this initial policy won’t cover every case for being verified—but it is a critical first step in helping us provide more transparency and fairer standards for verification on Twitter as we reprioritize this work," the company added.  

Twitter plans on unveiling the finalized verification policy on Dec. 17. Users can submit their feedback via an online survey.

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Original author: Kan

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