MANILA, PHILIPPINES — A couple of weeks ago, social media platform Twitter announced that the microblogging platform is planning to bring back their public verification program in 2021.
Twitter shared a draft of their new policy, and asked for public feedback to help shape the tech company’s approach. This new 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.
Public feedback has become a critical part of Twitter’s policy development process by making sure their policies reflect the global nature of their service and the people who use it. In the two weeks during Twitters’s public feedback period, they received more than 22,000 survey responses and learned so much about how they could improve their policy.
How public feedback shaped Twitter’s policy
Below are some of the areas Twitter updated in their new verification policy based on public feedback:
● Twitter heard feedback that some of the criteria for a profile to be considered “complete” feels too restrictive, so they updated their definition to no longer require a profile bio or header image.
● Twitter updated their references to Wikipedia to better align with the encyclopedias’ published standards for notability and article quality.
● Twitter clarified the titles of the “News” category to include “News and Journalists” and the “Sports” category to include “Sports and esports” to be more inclusive. They also added a reference in their “Entertainment” category to more clearly include digital content creators.
● Twitter heard feedback that measuring the minimum follower count requirement on a per-country basis wasn’t always the right approach, so they updated this to be on a per-region basis to make follower count requirements less susceptible to spam and more equitable across geographies.
Many people suggested that Twitter add categories for verification including academics, scientists and religious leaders, and they plan to explore adding dedicated categories for these to the policy some time next year. Until then, any of these individuals may qualify under the “Activists, organizers, and other influential individuals” category.
For example, since March 2020, Twitter have been working with global public health authorities to identify experts Tweeting about COVID-19 and have already verified hundreds of accounts as a part of this collaboration. These verifications will not be impacted by the new policy given the ongoing commitment to elevating credible information as it relates to the current public health crisis.
Twitter will begin enforcing this policy on January 20, 2021, which is also when they begin automatically removing the verified badge from inactive and incomplete accounts. Their new policy defines a complete account as one that has all of the following:
● either a verified email address or phone number
● a profile image
● a display name
In case your account is at risk of losing its verified badge, you’ll receive an automated email and an in-app notification informing you of what changes need to avoid automatic removal of your blue verified badge. As long as you make those changes before January 20, 2021, your account will not lose its badge. Twitter is not planning to automatically remove the verified badge from inactive accounts of people who are no longer living, and are working on building a way to memorialize these accounts in 2021.
Under our policy, Twitter may also remove verification from accounts that were found to be in severe or repeated violation of the Twitter Rules. They will continue to evaluate such accounts on a case-by-case basis, and will make improvements in 2021 on the relationship between enforcement of their rules and verification. As always, everyone on Twitter is subject to the Twitter Rules.
How to apply for verification in 2021?
Twitter is excited to relaunch public applications for verification in 2021 through a new, self-serve application process that will be available on the Account Settings page on the web and in-app. The process will include asking applicants to select a category for their verified status and confirming their identity via links and other supporting materials.
Twitter plans to use both automated and human review processes to ensure that they are reviewing applications thoughtfully and in a timely manner. They also plan to give people the option to share demographic information after completing the new verification application so that they can better measure and improve the equity of their verification process. Twitter will share more details about the application process soon.
Verification is just one part of Twitter’s work to help people understand who they’re interacting with on the popular social media platform. We know that it’s not always easy to evaluate the authenticity of accounts on the internet, and that understanding who you’re interacting with is core to the public conversation.
When it comes to helping people trust who they’re interacting with on Twitter, bios, Tweet content, mutual follows and profile information provide helpful context. This is why Twitter started rolling out profile labels for political candidates, government accounts, and state-affiliated media. In addition to the changes Twitter is making as the company re-introduce verification, is the microblogging site is also working on new ways to designate different account types, starting with:
● Automated Accounts: Accounts that post to Twitter automatically, also called bots, can bring a lot of value to the service when they share things like earthquake reports or self care reminders. But it can be confusing to people if it’s not clear that these accounts are automated. In 2021, Twitter is planning to build a new account type to distinguish automated accounts from human-run accounts to make it easier for people to know what’s a bot and what’s not.
● Memorial Accounts: Twitter knows how important it is to preserve a Twitter account in memory of someone who has passed and they’ve talked about building Memorial Accounts before. In 2021, Twitter is planning to build a new account type specifically designed for memorialized accounts. This will also come with an updated policy for memorialization and a new application flow to request the memorialization of an account.
Twitter has acknowledged that work here is far from finished, but they want to give subscribers a look ahead at what they’s doing in this space so the public could understand their approach. Twitter is excited to relaunch verification and start rolling out these new account types, and promised to share more information soon.