Twitter considering allowing all users to verify themselves in the future

9 Mar 2018

Twitter logo. Image: rvlsoft/Shutterstock

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is seeking a scalable way to allow all users to verify their accounts.

Since 2009, Twitter has bestowed a blue checkmark on accounts attached to public figures, celebrities and politicians in order to stem the tide of impersonators on its platform. Soon after this, journalists, publications and other users were allowed to apply for consideration of the team behind the verified programme.

Opening verification to all users

In a Periscope stream yesterday (8 March), Twitter chief Jack Dorsey discussed plans to allow everyone using the platform to become verified.

He said: “The intention is to open verification to everyone. And to do it in a way that is scalable [so] we’re not in the way and people can verify more facts about themselves and we don’t have to be the judge and imply any bias on our part.”

Twitter previously had a scheme in place since the summer of 2016, whereby users could fill out an application in order to obtain the elusive blue tick by sending information, such as your date of birth, phone number and sometimes a copy of government ID. A real photograph of yourself was also required under the scheme.

Since autumn of 2017, the programme has been suspended. A major public backlash against Twitter’s verification of several white supremacist accounts around the time of the far-right Charlottesville rally saw the process put on ice.

Dorsey’s remarks yesterday suggest he is willing to relaunch something similar, once the kinks and potential issues are ironed out.

Verification is not endorsement

The problem with the programme was the public perception that a verified check was a tacit endorsement of the user by the company, so the fact that notorious white nationalists’ profiles sported verified badges left a bad taste in the mouths of many.

On the same Periscope stream as Dorsey, David Gasca, a product director at the company, explained that a verification was never meant to be an act of endorsement. “The main problem is, we use it to mean identity but, because of the way it was originally started, where it was only given to certain very large public figures, celebrities etc, it came to have a lot of status associated with it as well.

“They think of it as credibility. Twitter stands behind this person, Twitter believes that … what they’re saying is great and authentic, which is not at all what we mean by the checkmark.”

By allowing users to submit for verification themselves using other social profiles, ID or other methods, the element of human discretion is removed and it could be a way for the company to change its verification model, dodging accusations of bias along with it.

At this stage, there is no timeline for the proposed changes.

Twitter logo. Image: rvlsoft/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects