Twitter should open verification beyond public figures

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As it stands right now, verification only happens to a certain class of people.  Included are politicians, public figures, celebrities, journalists, writers for national and known media outlets, and people who’ve had their accounts hacked or have had to report impersonating accounts.

Mind you, there are millions of Twitter users who yield considerable public influence, authors that have been on best-seller lists, media personalities, or even key officers of companies who are not verified, but whose words can have impact.

When Twitter was first launched, and as it has continued to flourished, it made sense to keep the blue check mark reserved for that specific class of people.  Where Twitter and the business world encourage authenticity, and social media has become our dominant interface with the world, including for tech support, it would be a smart idea for Twitter to extend verification beyond its current borders.

I frequently use Twitter to tag brands when I’m using them in context.  Social media managers are mining the network to see what consumers are saying about their brand, monitoring feedback, and listening for customers who might have concerns.  Brands will also use the contents of a person’s profile to learn more about them and leverage it for troubleshooting and marketing purposes.

In a time where Twitter has become an integrated part of people’s daily lives, nobody wants to wake up one day to find out that four accounts exist in their name, yet they only created one of them.  Where it can become complicated is two people share the same name, but have two different occupations, and/or lead two different lifestyles.

I did discover before writing this article that Twitter does have a page where you can apply for verification.  I have not submitted an application because while @michaelranaii is a real account, and I am the person who runs it daily, I am not a public figure, politician, celebrity, high profile individual, journalist, nor am I someone of massive public interest.

It should be added that just because I don’t meet Twitter’s criteria doesn’t mean that I can’t be impersonated, nor does it mean that my information can’t be used to deceive others.  Sadly, depending on intent of hackers, it wouldn’t take much to hack my account, take control of it and change the content.  I can enable all the security offered by Twitter, but someone hellbent on causing damage will go to massive lengths to compromise my identity.

I believe verification would also add a layer of security.  Since I do own @michaelranaii, I would have no problem going through a vetting process to prove it.  Twitter has seen its fair share of accounts whose purposes included the maligning, bullying, defamation, or harassment of others, and many legitimate accounts have been terminated because of false reporting by those malicious and harassing accounts.  If those legitimate accounts had been verified, I’m sure Twitter would have taken a closer look at the reports, seen that they were fake, or otherwise illegitimate, seen that the harassed accounts were instigating, and possibly terminated the bullies, while reinstating the legitimate user.

While the harassed user does have the option of blocking an offender, it doesn’t stop the bully from creating a second account with a completely different handle and name and going after the person that blocked them.  I’m sure Twitter could devise an algorithm to pick up on such patterns and deal with them individually.

It was only recently that Twitter announced more changes for policies dealing with online abuse, but even with those policy changes, there’s always a chance for good people to get caught up improper policy enforcement.  Considering the number of tweets I see from people and their supporters requesting that Twitter verify them, and many of them are public figures, or someone with a prominent position in their industry, it’s time to consider loosening things up.

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About the author

Mike Rana

Mike Rana is one of those people who is hard to define, though he's not immune to being labeled for something. He likes to talk about many topics including technology, business, politics, education, psychology, and human behavior. In his spare time, Mike enjoys traveling, people watching, analyzing the world around him, writing about his life experiences, absorbing information from various social media channels, and trying to be the voice of reason in the political arena.

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