Twitter is bringing back verification, that process that gives people those little blue check marks next to their names. Supposedly the new process will have clearer guidelines as to who or what qualifies for verification, as that was always somewhat obscure before.
The info comes from the ever-reliable Jane Wong on Twitter, who showed screenshots of an updated settings menu that includes the words “request verification.” There’s a new section on the Account menu in the settings called “Personal Information,” which shows “Profile,” and “Request verification.” Beyond that, the menu is empty.
Twitter is working on “Request Verification” 👀
(I’m not Twitter employee. I’m not tech support) pic.twitter.com/ED58QsD7kM
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) June 7, 2020
Twitter later confirmed the feature to TechCrunch, and specified that it will, for the first time, publicly reveal who or what qualifies for the blue check mark. Twitter verification rules used to be completely internal — you could apply and make your case, but Twitter’s actual rules were never clearly delineated — and it wasn’t always clear why Twitter gave verification to some people and not others. Now the exact qualifications will be public, for better or for worse.
While verification was only intended to be just what it sounded like, it tended to function as a mark of prestige, amplifying the voice of those who received it (whether Twitter wanted it to or not). The figurative levee broke when Twitter granted a blue tick to the organizer of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. While Twitter again said it wasn’t intended to be an endorsement, it still struck many as in very poor taste, as the verification implied he was somehow a noteworthy public figure whose voice needed to be safeguarded.
Since then, Twitter has massively scaled back its verifications in order to give the whole system an overhaul, meaning no one could apply for a blue tick (the support page on verified accounts listed the program as “on hold“). While Twitter has verified some in the interim — including health officials who are experts on COVID-19 during the pandemic — it’s not really offered the option for individual users. Now, almost three years later, it finally appears to be bringing it back.
We’ll have to see how many people get verified when this new system rolls out — and also how stringent Twitter‘s rules will be on who qualifies. And just as a sidenote, given how many new features she reveals, I hope the first recipient of the new wave of Twitter blue checkmarks is Jane Wong herself.