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How Elon Musk Can Fix Twitter's Verification Process
Elon Musk took over Twitter last year and implemented various changes, many of which were remarkable and reinstated the freedom of expression to a platform that had previously silenced conservative voices, including my own.
One particular change I didn't like was making account verification a paid subscription feature. Under this new policy, any user willing to pay $8 per month could obtain the highly sought-after blue checkmark and enjoy exclusive features that free users do not have access to, such as the option to edit tweets and post longer tweets, among other perks.
While this change may have been good for generating revenue for the company, it ultimately diluted the value of the blue checkmark. What good is a blue checkmark if it can be acquired by anyone who requests it, regardless of whether the account belongs to a well-known individual or a brand? Under Musk’s new system, I have observed that a significant portion, if not the majority, of verified accounts belong to obscure individuals with only a small number of followers, while some even belong to anonymous accounts.
The original intention of verification, when it was first introduced in June 2009, was to convey the legitimacy of a Twitter account. Verification allowed users to differentiate between authentic notable account holders, such as celebrities and organizations, and fake accounts or parodies.
The standards for verification weren’t always evenly applied. Many prominent conservatives struggled to get verified under Twitter’s old management. But the fix for that problem wasn’t to make verification open to anyone for a fee. The blue checkmark means nothing now.
On top of this, several celebrities and other notable people who have lost their checkmarks are making a big stink about losing something that once protected them impersonation. While it may be tempting to ridicule them for not being willing to pay a meager sum for verification, the issue remains that paying for a blue checkmark now seems trivial when it can be obtained by any random person willing to shell out $8 a month.
There’s a simple solution to this problem. Twitter needs to differentiate between the accounts of notable account holders and those who have merely paid for the privilege. Twitter has already implemented gold checkmarks for verified accounts of companies or organizations, and gray checkmarks for public officials, governments, and political parties.
Hence, to resolve the issue of the diluted value of blue checkmarks, Twitter should adopt a tiered system for verification.
The first tier, a Light Blue Checkmark, would be available to all users with a Twitter Blue subscription. This tier would provide users with basic verification and the exclusive features such as the ability to edit tweets and post longer tweets.
The second tier, a Blue Checkmark, would be exclusively reserved for public figures and brands. These verified accounts would be granted to users through an application process based on clearly defined criteria. This tier would uphold the original purpose of verification, which is to safeguard the identity and brand of notable individuals and organizations.
By introducing a tiered blue checkmark system, Twitter can provide a more accurate representation of a user's status, thus making it easier for users to identify accounts that are more relevant to their interests. Furthermore, notable figures and brands would be more willing to pay for a checkmark that sets them apart from the general public, providing a sense of exclusivity and increased legitimacy to their profiles.
This would make the system fair while also serving the original purpose of verification. Sure, there will be plenty of people who don’t want to pay for the checkmark, but they’ll be more likely to do so if that checkmark actually has value.