Twitter may reopen profile verification apps soon

This could make many Twitter users very happy, or also generate more confusion, depending on how it is implemented.

According to a new discovery made by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong, Twitter is working on a new option that would allow users to request profile verification from their account settings.

Twitter closed the option to request verification, and obtain the prestigious blue tick, in November 2017 after the confusion over how the verification tick was applied, with some regions, and even individual Twitter employees, apparently approving people according to a different classification.

Twitter has not provided updates on the process since then, although it has repeatedly noted that it is working on a new system. Twitter also continued to verify some accounts, though not through user apps. More recently, Twitter used its checkmark to highlight authorized voices regarding COVID-19, but again, that was internally managed and not open to public requests.

Twitter first allowed all users to request verification, though if you try to go through that process now, you’ll get this note:

Twitter Product Leader Kayvon Beykpour reported that while work had been done to fix its verification process, it was not a priority, and was still far from being relaunched. The appearance of a new notice in the tests could suggest that it is now approaching a return, although it remains a mystery how it will work and what qualification process Twitter will use for it. And Twitter is likely to be difficult to manage, no matter how they do it.

For example, part of the problem with verification was that it apparently implied that Twitter endorsed any account with a blue mark. In 2017, Twitter verified the profile of a white supremacist leader, despite the fact that, almost at the same time, he promised to take further action against hate speech. That’s what caused the initial pause in verification: The confusion here was that some on Twitter viewed the checkmark as a basic identification confirmation mark, while others felt that it should be reserved only for approved public figures. So, some people have been verified simply by showing who they are, regardless of their public profile, while others have been rejected, despite being people of importance.

Any change in the process will mean Twitter will need to provide more specific clarity on what exactly qualifies someone for a blue tick, but it could also mean that Twitter will need to retrospectively remove the tick from those who currently have it, but don’t. ‘It does not meet these updated standards.

Twitter, of course, is unlikely to do that, but if you don’t take that step, it will mean that a level of confusion will remain around what the blue mark represents, as some people who have been previously approved will still have despite not meeting the new requirements.

It’s hard to tell how Twitter works, just delete it for everyone and then start again. It seems unlikely, but then again, with only 356k people currently having the blue mark, twitter could, in theory, review all of these profiles and remove the mark from those who are no longer eligible.

Either way, it’s interesting to note that Twitter seems to be making progress on this, and it will be interesting to see how they facilitate the process forward.

If Twitter leans toward doing it more like an official ID confirmation, that could help provide more responsibility, with users unable to hide behind a basic account. Twitter could, for example, reduce the visibility of unapproved accounts, limiting their ability to interact without going through the identification process. That could make trolls think twice about their activity since it would be tied to their real identity.

If Twitter leans toward a more exclusive endorsement for public figures that, as noted, could see accounts that don’t qualify stripped of the brand.

It is an interesting element, and we will have to wait and see where Twitter decides to go with it.

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