Twitter Wants to Verify All Users as a Way to Prove Identity

Posted March 10, 2018

CEO Jack Dorsey said during a Periscope live stream today that the intention eventually is to reopen the verification process to everyone, but with some changes...

Dorsey didn't elaborate further on what this process looks like, but other online communities, such as Airbnb, employ a user-submitted verification program that requires users to submit a Facebook profile, phone number, email address, or a government-issued photo ID. The plan is to open up verification to everyone - and Twitter will not be acting as judge and jury. By withholding verification under some arbitrary measure of "importance", Twitter implied that verified users were important. Now, the blue tick is seen as a symbol of credibility, rather than confirmation of identity.

Celebrities and major public figures were among the first to receive them before Twitter began accepting applications for verified status in 2016. Users had to comply with specific rules, prove their identity, and finally be judged by Twitter as worthy of being verified.

In a statement to The Verge, Twitter director of product David Gasca indicated that "The main problem is, we use [the checkmark] to mean identity". People protested when white supremacists and alt-right figures were given a blue checkmark.

At this point, there's no timetable for when Twitter might reopen verification to everyone.

Within the a year ago, Twitter has drawn national media attention and heightened scrutiny from members of Congress over attempts by foreign users to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, efforts to harass and abuse other users, and the abundance of automated accounts that amplify misinformation.

"Ultimately we want to have a measurement of how it affects the broader society and public health, but also individual health, as well", Dorsey said. The head of product health said that the blue verification check-mark was created to address identity, but it came to mean "credibility" and was perceived, incorrectly, to mean that users with the check-mark were somehow supported by the site - that Twitter "stood behind" them and their views. In effect, verification signaled not just that a user was who they claimed to be, but also that what they said could be trusted, and that Twitter supported what they said.