With social media having a more involved place in global culture than ever before, it’s often difficult for people to understand what’s real or credible and what isn’t. Power player Twitter is taking new steps with its redesigned verification program that had its first steps go into effect in late January.
What the new policy entails
Verification on sites like Twitter is crucial in order to help users sift through the thick soup of information they come into contact with each time they visit the app or website. The social media giant explained that “Verification is just one part of our work to help people understand who they’re interacting with on Twitter”.
Twitter further expounds that they are aware that “it’s not always easy to evaluate the authenticity of accounts on the internet and that understanding who you’re interacting with is core to the public conversation.” After receiving public feedback over the course of two weeks, the company tinkered at its verification process. This resulted in the new policy that aims to “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 program is more equitable.”
We're planning to relaunch verification in 2021, but first we want to hear from you.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 24, 2020
The first part of this overhaul is the criteria that accounts must meet in order to apply for verification. Verification will no longer necessitate a profile bio or a header image as the public considered the requirement “too restrictive.” Additionally, Twitter changed the minimum follow count requirement from a per-country basis to a per-region basis to make accounts “less susceptible to spam and more equitable across geographies.”
Twitter also noted that the plan to give users the option to offer demographic info after completing their application in order to prevent bias in account analysis and keep the service fair for everyone. To sum matters up, a complete account should have a profile image, a display name, and either a verified email or phone number. It’s as simple as that.
More categories for verified accounts
In addition to verification criteria, Twitter has also announced that there will be more ways to get verification, specifically more categories for verified accounts. They suggested that they are exploring adding categories for “academics, scientists and religious leaders.” However, they haven’t committed to a real timetable on when that might happen.
Twitter is launching its new verification process on January 20th!
— Amit Panchal (@AmitHPanchal) December 18, 2020
Twitter did announce, though, that it is actively “rolling out profile labels for political candidates, government accounts, and state-affiliated media” to help users know when they hear from those holding power. Similarly, they’ve been identifying key medical experts during this pandemic.
Also, Twitter plans to instate memorial accounts this year to honor social media users who have since passed away that could be managed by friends and family. Conversely, for those accounts not managed by anyone, Twitter has something in mind: making dedicated accounts for bots. They explained that these bot accounts “can bring a lot of value to the service when they share things like earthquake reports or self-care reminders”. However, they are aware that this “can be confusing to people if it’s not clear that these accounts are automated.”
Some accounts may lose verification
All that said, with these changes in verification, due to a new set of rules, some accounts will sadly lose that prized little checkmark. Since January 22, Twitter has started to remove the verified badge from “inactive and incomplete” accounts. They also plan on removing verification from accounts that are found to be in “severe or repeated violation” of its code and rules. Some accounts belonging to those who are no longer living will also be removed, but Twitter hopes to memorialize some of them.
Twitter says that under its new verification policy it may "remove verification from accounts that are found to be in severe or repeated violation of the Twitter Rules…" https://t.co/KAVo1kOfKa pic.twitter.com/G9DmblMVcG
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 17, 2020
Those at risk for removal due to these new standards would receive an automated email and in-app notification from Twitter informing the user of their precarious predicament. However, that deadline, January 22, has passed. So any accounts not adhering to the new guidelines before then should have been removed by now.
During this transition time, Twitter encourages its fans to continue to abide by their policy and offer constant support and feedback, “making sure our policies reflect the global nature of our service and the people who use it.” Since January 22 and throughout 2021, Twitter hopes to improve the user experience constantly.