Tech blogger and app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered that Twitter is developing a new verification service. The original 2016 service placed a blue-and-white checkmark next to a verified personal account, brand or company. The service was halted in 2017 after it verified an account of Jason Kessler, an organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. According to Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey, the company planned to expand the service in 2018 but didn’t have the bandwidth to do so.
CNET reports “a screenshot that suggests the new feature, if made public, will live in the app settings under a Personal Information section.” Twitter didn’t deny it “but had no further comment beyond a tweet from product lead Kayvon Beykpour that said the social media site is working on incorporating self-service identification.”
It’s not yet known “how different the new in-app Request Verification would be from the 2016 form.” Currently, the company’s verified account program is “on hold and not accepting new requests.”
According to The Verge, with the former system, Twitter admitted that although “a verified badge did not imply a formal endorsement by the company … there was some confusion over the purpose of the badge and what it represents.” In 2018, Twitter shifted its focus to election integrity, with an attempt to “verify candidates on primary ballots and elected officials but with mixed results.”
This year, “Twitter started granting blue checks to public health officials to give authenticity to their tweets about COVID-19.”
TechCrunch reports that the new system sports a “Request Verification” option “in a redesigned account settings screen.” It notes that, “for years, Twitter’s verification system had been fairly ad hoc.” Although Twitter’s intent was to “convey that someone with a high-profile account is, in fact, who they say they are … instead, the system was often perceived as one that anointed those Twitter considered ‘noteworthy figures’… [and the check mark] came to mean a badge of honor, to sometimes disastrous results.”
The new system, said Twitter, isn’t simply about the reappearance of verification: the company plans to “publicly document what qualifies a Twitter user to be verified,” with the hope that it will provide more transparency and end confusion. TechCrunch says, “Twitter in the past had internal guidelines around verification, but this will be the first time Twitter has ever publicly and specifically documented those rules.”