Twitter will soon begin verifying users again, but it needs help

It wants your feedback on its new verification policy.

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Twitter plans to dole out blue check badges again starting early next year, but it wants your feedback on its new policy for general verification before that happens. Back in 2017, the website came under fire for verifying white supremacists and Neo-Nazis on the platform, forcing the company to put general verification on pause until it figures things out. “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,” Twitter Support posted at the time.

The company verified at least 1,000 health experts earlier this year in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19-related misinformation. However, the process remained opaque and the verification program was still officially on hold. That will change next year if everything goes smoothly. Twitter says the new policy will determine what verification truly means, who’s eligible to be verified and why some accounts could lose their check marks. To prevent a repeat of 2017, it’s now seeking users’ input before enforcing the new policy by making its draft copy available to the public. Users can either answer Twitter’s survey or tweet their feedback with the hashtag #VerificationFeedback.

To start with, the proposed policy defines “the blue verified badge on Twitter” as a way to let “people know that an account of public interest is authentic.” To receive it, accounts must be both notable and active. The draft policy also defines the types of accounts that can apply for a blue badge. Accounts that fall under any of these six categories can go through the verification process: government; companies, brands and non-profit organizations; news; entertainment; sports; activists, organizers and other influential individuals. The draft policy has an in-depth explanation of which accounts are eligible and the criteria they should meet. For instance, artists and performers must have websites that link to their account and have 5 production credits on IMDB or be referenced in three or more news pieces over the past six months.

Since the last category — activists, organizers and other influential individuals — isn’t quite as well—defined as the others, the new policy also clarifies what renders those accounts ineligible for verification. Twitter says those accounts must “not primarily post content that harasses, shames, or insults any individual or group — especially on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, medical/genetic condition, status as a veteran, status as a refugee, or status as an immigrant — or content that promotes the supremacy or interests of members of any group in a manner likely to be perceived as demeaning on the basis of these categories...”

Further, all accounts applying for verification “must not have had a 12-hour or 7-day lockout for violating the Twitter Rules in the past six months, excluding successful appeals.” Plus, Twitter can revoke verification status anytime if an account is proven to participate in “artificial or inauthentic activity” or if it violates any of its rules. Violations that fall under Twitter’s rules against hateful activity, abusive behavior, glorification of violence and private information policy, among others, could lead to the loss of the blue check mark.

Twitter says it’s also planning to roll out more ways for users to identify themselves on the platform, including the introduction of new account types and labels. It promises to release more details about those in the coming weeks.