This morning, Twitter said it is reopening the application process for verification. Verified accounts are the ones with little blue check marks after the user name, and the whole thing is supposed to give users confidence that an account is who it says it is.
In reality, however, the blue check mark has become a sort of status symbol on the social media platform, as though it gives some sort of legitimacy to those who have one. Twitter, for its part, is careful to say that the blue check mark isn’t an endorsement of an account, and isn’t even an indicator that an account’s tweets are necessarily true.
The fact there has never been any degree of clarity about why some accounts are verified, and others aren’t, became enough of a problem that Twitter paused all verification in 2017. That only added to the “fear of missing out,” for many Twitter users.
To that end, Twitter’s announcement today seeks to create some transparency in the process by explaining what types of users are eligible of verification, and opening applications to everyone.
This time around, Twitter isn’t looking to just create a better process for verifying that you are who you say you are. In theory, that would make the vast majority of accounts eligible for verification. As long as you can prove you are who you say you are, you should be able to have a blue check mark next to your name, right? That’s not Twitter’s goal, however.
To give a little context, Twitter talks about verification as a way to “protect the public conversation.” In a blog post describing the new application process, Twitter explains how it sees verification as playing a role:
The badge is one of the ways we help people distinguish the authenticity of accounts that are of high public interest. It gives people on Twitter more context about who they’re having conversations with so they can determine if it’s trustworthy, which our research has shown leads to healthier, more informed conversations.
The idea is that if you see a tweet in your timeline about a particular subject, it’s helpful to know whether the person is a reliable source on that subject. For example, if you see a tweet from your favorite baseball team that they’re giving away a bobble head to the first 1,000 people through the gate, it would be nice to know if that actually came from the team and not some elaborate troll.
Currently, Twitter says there are around 340,000 verified accounts. As I mentioned, it wasn’t ever clear how or why those accounts were verified, and in some cases, Twitter has removed the verification badge for various reasons such as rule violations or incomplete profiles.
For that reason, Twitter is focusing not only on ensuring that an account is authentic but also that it is notable. Notable is sort of a subjective standard, but Twitter has done a good job of laying out six categories that it considers eligible at this time. (It also says it plans to evolve this process over time, adding new categories that will be eligible.)
The good news is, if you fall into one of the six categories Twitter has identified as “notable,” you’ll be able to apply for verification starting today. The six categories include:
- Government officials and agencies
- Companies, brands, and organizations
- News organizations and journalists
- Sports and gaming
- Activists, organizers, and influential individuals
There are definitely benefits for both businesses and individuals to having a blue check mark next to your name. It makes it a lot easier for users to find and follow your company’s official account, which can help you better grow and communicate with your audience.
To apply, visit the Account Settings tab in your account, where you can fill out the application. If you’re planning to apply for verification for your business or other organization, be sure you’re logged in to that account. Also, Twitter says you have to have a “complete profile,” which means you have to have an account name, an avatar photo, and a confirmed email address or phone number.
The application process only takes a minute or so, and Twitter says you can expect to hear back in a few days–though it’s also careful to say that it could take longer depending on the number of applications it receives. Applications are reviewed manually by humans, and Twitter seems acutely aware that it’s likely to receive a large number of applications.
To that end, Twitter also says it’s rolling out applications to accounts over the next few weeks. That means that you shouldn’t worry if you don’t see it today–it just means you should check back later.