The much coveted blue tick on Twitter may soon be a possibility for everyone, as indicated by the platform’s CEO Jack Dorsey in a casual Periscope livestream on Thursday where he sported a T-shirt with the hashtag and women symbol, an apt message for International Women’s Day.
In an almost 50-minute Periscope live, Jack said, “The intention is to open verification to everyone. And to do it in a way that’s scalable, where [Twitter] is not in the way and people can verify more facts about themselves and we don’t have to be the judge or imply any bias on our part.”
The blue tick is a small blue check mark against a Twitter user’s name which verifies that the user is the real person behind the account and not an impersonator. The feature is widely used by celebrities and/or public organisations and figures. This is useful in identifying the real account from any of their impersonators, and Twitter has been doing it for companies, politicians, and other popular accounts since 2009. It has, in many ways, become a status symbol.
However, the verification programme was suspended in November last year when it was criticised for verifying an account of one of the organisers of the white supremacist Charlottesville rally in Virginia where a life was lost.
Twitter came out to specify that the blue tick was to be seen as verification and not as an endorsement or approval, as it had come to be perceived.
Hence, before Twitter starts the verification process again, it has to clarify what the verified symbol means. In the same Periscope live, one of Twitter’s Product Directors, David Gasca, said,
“They think of it as credibility. Twitter stands behind this person, Twitter believes that this person is someone that – what they’re saying is great and authentic, which is not what at all what we mean by the checkmark.”
Once Twitter manages to drive home this point, they will need to show how accounts can be verified. Jack didn’t mention how the platform will go about it, but perhaps it could be attached to a phone number and maybe other social media accounts. That remains to be seen.