Twitter Is Revamping Its Verification Process

It's accepting RFPs from users, companies and academic institutions

Twitter is trying to find a way to avoid silencing voices while also not verifying the wrong accounts. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Twitter is exploring how it can overhaul the path to the almighty blue check mark.

According to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the San Francisco-based social media platform is developing a process to allow users to become verified in order to better distinguish real people from Russian trolls and bots. According to Dorsey, the move could help improve the overall dialogue on the platform while also clearing up confusion about who gets verified and who doesn’t.

“We believe verification is something that is very broken on this platform and something that we need to fix and that we need a much more cohesive view on,” Dorsey said during a Thursday afternoon livestream via Twitter-owned Periscope.

Dorsey and several other Twitter executives discussed what they plan to do this year to help improve the platform. The nearly hour-long discussion was a follow up to Twitter’s news earlier this month when the company announced plans to begin accepting external ideas from people, companies and academic institutions for how to improve the overall health of the platform.

Verification on Twitter debut in 2009 as a way to prove that celebrities, journalists and other notable users were not fake accounts. Twitter later began allowing users beyond the most popular to apply for verification by submitting information about themselves, such as a government ID. However, the company suspended verification altogether in November after receiving harsh criticism for verifying Jason Kessler, the organizer of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed after being run over by a car.

Dorsey said the company is trying to develop a way to create a “scalable” verification program where people can quickly authenticate themselves. He said that means find a balance between fixing safety and abuse concerns while also not censoring certain types of political voices.

During the livestream, Dorsey said finalists will be announced in the second quarter of this year, and any ideas developed won’t belong to Twitter. In fact, he said the plan is to make everything readily available so other platforms, such as Facebook, Reddit or other rivals battling similar issues of abuse and fake accounts, can use it to improve their own companies.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is not just affecting us, but affecting many folks and many services around the world,” Dorsey said.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.