Introduced in June 2009, the Twitter verification system provides the site's readers with a means to distinguish genuine notable account holders, such as celebrities and organizations, from impostors or parodies. A blue check mark displayed against an account name indicates that Twitter has taken steps to ensure that the account is actually owned by the person or organization whom it is claimed to represent. The check mark does not imply endorsement from Twitter, and does not mean that tweets from a verified account are necessarily accurate or truthful in any way. People with verified accounts on Twitter are often colloquially referred to as "blue checks" on social media and by reporters.
In June 2009, after being criticized by Kanye West and sued by Tony La Russa over unauthorized accounts run by impersonators, the company launched their "Verified Accounts" program. Twitter stated that an account with a "blue tick" verification badge indicates "we've been in contact with the person or entity the account is representing and verified that it is approved". After the beta period, the company stated in their FAQ that it "proactively verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they're looking for" and that they "do not accept requests for verification from the general public". Originally, Twitter took on the responsibility of reaching out to celebrities and other notable to confirm their identities in order to establish a verified account.
In July 2016, Twitter announced a public application process to grant verified status to an account "if it is determined to be of public interest" and that verification "does not imply an endorsement". In 2017 the company began accepting requests for verification, but it was discontinued the same year. Twitter explained that the volume of requests for verified accounts had exceeded its ability to cope; rather, Twitter determines on its own whom to approach about verified accounts, limiting verification to accounts which are "authentic, notable, and active".
In November 2020, Twitter announced a relaunch of its verification system in 2021. According to the new policy, Twitter verifies six different types of accounts; for three of them (companies, brands, and influential individuals like activists), the existence of a Wikipedia page will be one criterion for showing that the account has "Off Twitter Notability". Twitter states that it will re-open public verification applications at some point in "early 2021".
Twitter's practice and process for verifying accounts came under scrutiny in 2017 after the company verified the account of white supremacist and far-right political activist, Jason Kessler. Many who criticized Twitter's decision to verify Kessler's account saw this as a political act on the company's behalf. In response, Twitter put its verification process on hold. The company tweeted, "Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon."
In November 2019, Dalit activists of India alleged that higher-caste people get Twitter verification easily and trended hashtags #CancelAllBlueTicksInIndia and #CasteistTwitter. Critics have said that the company's verification process is not transparent and causes digital marginalisation of already marginalised communities. Twitter India rejected the allegations, calling them "impartial" and working on a "case-by-case" policy.
A verified account is a highly sought-after qualification among Twitter users. Since Twitter alone can grant blue check marks, they can use them as a passive inducement for users to create more content. Alison Hearn also argues that they introduce a new social class of Twitter users. This can cause tension between verified and non-verified users of the site; when Twitter temporarily locked out verified accounts in the aftermath of the 2020 Twitter bitcoin scam, many non-verified users celebrated. Though Twitter verification is only meant to verify identity, the bitcoin scam was an example of the social influence held by verified accounts. Because tweets directing users to send bitcoin were sent from verified accounts, the scam was likely more successful than if accounts were chosen at random.
Losing verified status
Twitter retains the right to remove a verified status from any account at any time. If any account violates the Twitter Terms of Service, which includes abusive behavior, impersonation, and a number of other violations it is subject to losing verified status. Accounts which undergo administrative changes such as changes in account bio details or changes to the user handle (or @username) are also at risk of having the blue check removed.
- Staff, PCMag (12 June 2009). "Phew! Twitter Verifies Celebrity Tweets as Authentic". PCMag. AppScout. Archived from the original on 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
- Cashmore, Pete (11 June 2009). "Twitter Launches Verified Accounts". Mashable. Archived from the original on 15 June 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
It’ll also solve the entrenched problem of celebrity impersonations, which are confusing for users and unwelcome by those being impersonated.
- Manfredi, Lucas (2020-07-15). "Twitter's Blue Checkmark explained". Fox Business. Archived from the original on 2021-02-09. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
- Kanalley, Craig (2013-03-12). "Why Twitter Verifies Users". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-09-27. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
- Welch, Chris (2018-07-17). "Twitter says it doesn't 'have the bandwidth' to fix verification right now". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2021-01-28. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
- Bishop, Rollin (March 30, 2017). "'Verified' is now a derogatory term on Twitter". The Outline. Archived from the original on 2020-11-29. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
- Stone, Biz (June 6, 2009). "Not Playing Ball". Twitter.
- Kanalley, Craig (March 12, 2013). "Why Twitter Verifies Users: The History Behind the Blue Checkmark". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- Cashmore, Pete (June 11, 2009). "Twitter Launches Verified Accounts". Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- "FAQs about verified accounts". Archived from the original on July 19, 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Warfield, Katie. Mediated Interfaces: The Body on Social Media. Bloomsbury. p. 55.
- "About verified accounts". Archived from the original on July 20, 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- "Announcing an Application Process for Verified Accounts". Twitter. July 19, 2016.
- Burgess, Matt (July 20, 2016). "Twitter opens verification to all". Wired. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
- Delo, Cotton (2012-01-10). "One Way to Get a Twitter 'Verified Account': Buy Ads". Ad Age. Archived from the original on 2021-02-08. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
- "About verified accounts". help.twitter.com. Archived from the original on 2017-12-05. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
- Harrison, Stephen (December 4, 2020). "Twitter Wants to Use Wikipedia to Help Determine Who Gets a Blue Checkmark". Slate Magazine. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
- Statt, Nick (December 17, 2020). "Twitter is launching its new verification policy on January 20th". The Verge. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
- Allyn, Bobby (November 24, 2020). "Twitter To Accept Blue Check Mark Requests in 2021 Following 3-Year Hiatus". NPR.
- Bowles, Nellie (2017-11-09). "Twitter, Facing Another Uproar, Pauses Its Verification Process". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2021-04-16. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
- Twitter Support [@twittersupport] (November 9, 2017). "Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon" (Tweet). Retrieved 2021-04-16 – via Twitter.
- Tiku, Nitasha (November 10, 2017). "Twitter's Authentication Policy Is a Verified Mess". Wired.
- "#CancelAllBlueTicksInIndia trends on Twitter, netizens slam caste-based discrimination". The Economic Times. November 6, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
- "#cancelallBlueTicksinIndia Trends As Twitter Faces Caste Storm". The Quint. November 6, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
- "Why Dalit activists are furious with 'casteist' Twitter". Free Press Journal. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
- "'The Blue Janeu': As Critics Cry 'Casteism', Twitter Ducks for Cover". The Wire. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
- "Twitter reacts to accusations of caste bias, says it's 'impartial'". Free Press Journal. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
- "Twitter Cites 'Case-By-Case' Verification Policy as Casteism Allegations Ravage Platform". News18. November 7, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
- Hearn, Alison (2017-04-03). "Verified: Self-presentation, identity management, and selfhood in the age of big data". Popular Communication. 15 (2): 62–77. doi:10.1080/15405702.2016.1269909. ISSN 1540-5702.
- Watercutter, Angela (July 16, 2020). "Twitter Is at Its Best When Verified Accounts Can't Tweet". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
- Joseph, Andrew (15 July 2020). "Hack: Twitter locks Blue Checks; unverified accounts react with jokes". USA Today. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
- "Twitter verification requirements - how to get the blue check". help.twitter.com. Archived from the original on 2017-12-05. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
- Maza, Cristina (June 11, 2018). "Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan Loses Twitter Verification for Calling Jews 'Satanic'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on December 7, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2021.