YouTube is about to make it considerably harder to earn that coveted "verified" status. The service has outlined a revamp of the verification process that will ditch the previous 100,000-subscriber requirement in favor of approving channels based on authenticity and prominence. It should behave more like verification on social networks, in other words -- there has to be a real concern that someone might impersonate a channel or otherwise spark confusion. Any channel that meets the new requirements will automatically receive the treatment when the updated verification system is ready in late October, while those that don't will receive notices and must appeal if they believe it's a mistake.
The site is simultaneously changing how it displays verified users. Instead of placing a checkmark or musical note near a channel's name, YouTube will apply a gray background to the text. This will make it clearer that verification isn't an endorsement on YouTube's part, and make it that much harder to fake verification.
YouTube hasn't said just how it'll verify channels without their involvement, but TechCrunch has heard that it'll use a mix of algorithms and human inspection to make judgment calls.
These efforts could improve the level of trust in YouTube. The 100,000-subscriber requirement made it possible to game the system by pushing for as many subscribers as possible, even if there was nothing special about the channel or its videos. Now, there will have to be some evidence of genuine popularity. The change could pose problems for honest channels who may find themselves stripped of their coveted status -- to some extent, it's already a problem -- but YouTube is clearly betting that these oversights will be more than offset by reduced shady behavior.