After suspending the program back in 2017, today Twitter announced that it’s bringing back its verification process supported by an updated policy beginning next month in January 2021.
Earlier this fall, Twitter indicated that it would be reviving its verification program with a new public application process designed to combat issues with the previous system that saw people including organisers of neo-Nazi rallies earn the coveted blue checkmark.
In a blog post published today, Twitter said that after asking for feedback regarding its revamped verification process, the company’s new [verification] policy “will 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.”
To that end, Twitter says to help ease the burden of what is considered to be a “complete” profile, Twitter is removing the requirement for a Twitter account to have a profile bio or header image in order to be verified.
Users who want to be verified will also now be able to apply for verification via an option in Twitter’s Account settings menu, with accounts said to be verified through a mix of human and automated review.
Previously, Twitter has said “verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” though prior to the program being suspended in 2017, the process had resulted in a lot of confusion due to how it was handled and often misunderstood.
Going forward, Twitter says the blue verified badged is meant to let “people know that an account of public interest is authentic. To receive the blue badge, your account must be authentic, notable, and active.” (emphasis Twitter, not ours.)
To that end, Twitter says anyone looking to be verified will need to have an account that represents or is associated with a “prominently recognised individual or brand” across a number of potential categories including government, well-known companies or organisations, news outlets or journalists, entertainment, sports and gaming, and activists, organisers, or other influential individuals.
Sadly, that leaves accounts of people like academics, scientists, and religious leaders unaccounted for, something that Twitter says was suggested by many who contributed feedback. Twitter claims it is planning to explore these categories in the future and potentially add them sometime next year, but until then, Twitter advises notable individuals who don’t fall under existing categories to apply as “Activists, organisers, and other influential individuals.”
For now, it remains to be seen what sort of impact Twitter’s new verification policy will have on users or the significance of the company’s blue check, though based on past results, it’s almost sure to be a mixed bag. And when it comes to helping people figure out who to trust, Twitter says it’s also rolling out profile labels for people like political candidates, government accounts, and state-affiliated media.
The new verification process is set to go into effect on Jan. 20, 2021, with Twitter also planning to start removing verification from inactive or incomplete accounts that day as well.