The problem with social media is that you never truly know if the person you’re talking to during an IM session is who they say they are. Internet anonymity makes social impersonation very simple to do. Twitter progressively began enforcing identity verifications in order to filter out the legitimate accounts from the fakes.
Twitter’s approach to identity verification is a step in the right direction, but it’s far from foolproof. This past Tuesday, the social network expanded its “verified account” signal for all users, rather than just those with high profiles. Before, verified accounts — profiles with a blue checkbox representing the account’s legitimacy — were limited to celebrities, brands, athletes, politicians, executives, and the media, among other public figures. You couldn’t get a verified account if you weren’t a well-known individual or organization.
But things have changed. Now, Twitter users can have that sought-after checkbox next to their name. Getting legitimized is a simple procedure: simply fill out a form provided by Twitter once your existing account is proven to be associated with a confirmed email address verified phone number. You’ll also be required to use a real picture of yourself in the profile photo section, and list your birthday, as well as your official website.
Not just anyone can get that blue checkbox, though. If you want one, you’ll have to explain why your account needs verification. The social network will want to know the role you play in your field, or the mission of your brand. You might even be asked for government-issued ID (driver’s license or passport) to prove who you claim to be. They’ll want to see real names or a familiar stage name, in addition to a profile picture that accurately represents your identity. As long as you can provide those things, Twitter won’t have any reason to hold back that blue checkbox from you.
Twitter is getting behind the verification of all accounts in order to curb abuse. Verified accounts can filter likes, replies, and mentions by other verified accounts. This allows a user to bypass the harassment and bullying that comes from so-called keyboard terrorists – those who can spew hate and negativity behind the safety of anonymity. According to Twitter, 187,000 of its 320 million monthly active users are verified. With Tuesday’s major change in account status, that number should change for the greater good.
Verification also takes some of the burden off Twitter’s staff. Users were allowed to apply for verification up until 2009, however, employees could no longer keep up with the requests. They opted instead to manually select who was worthy of a verified status.
With the amount of people looking for legitimate, non-celebrity accounts, it made sense for Twitter to revisit the allocation of blue checkboxes. The idea is to help users find accounts worth following, help brands engage with their customers, and help creators connect with their core audience.
A limited number of Twitter users will be able to apply for verification today, and by week’s end, users worldwide will be able to apply.