Twitter will resume doling out little blue checkmark badges—a sort of status symbol on the service—after halting the program for four years amid criticism that its criteria was inconsistent.
The company said on Wednesday that it will again give the checkmarks, which signify verified accounts, to government officials, entertainers, companies, journalists, and professional athletes. Activists, organizers, and other influential people are also eligible.
Twitter paused its verification program in 2017 after receiving public backlash for verifying Jason Kessler, one of the organizers behind the Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Two days after giving him the checkmark, Twitter said it would halt the verification process to clarify its process, which it said was “confusing” to some.
“Our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted in response to the criticism.
In 2020, the company revised its policies for awarding checkmarks and began enforcing them in January on the 360,000 existing accounts that had been previously verified (including removing badges from accounts that no longer qualified under the new rules). With its latest announcement, Twitter is opening the doors to others getting checkmarks.
“Today’s application rollout marks the next milestone in our plans to give more transparency, credibility and clarity to verification on Twitter,” Twitter said in a blog post.
Eligible Twitter users can apply for verification by visiting the account settings tab on Twitter and submitting an application. In general, Twitter said it will manually evaluate applications based on three principles: notability of the account holder, authenticity, and activity. Users who have violated the rules within the last 12 months are ineligible.
Additionally, each category of eligible accounts must also meet other criteria before being verified. For example, company accounts should meet two of three requirements: either have a presence in public indices like Google Trends or public stock exchanges, three or more featured references from news outlets within the past six months, or a follower count in the top .1% of active accounts in the same geographic region.
Twitter expects to send applicants a response within “a few days” up to a “few weeks” depended on the number of requests the company receives. Approved applicants will automatically receive a blue checkmark. Those who do not get approved have 30 days to reapply if they believe Twitter made a mistake.
Once an account is verified, users cannot change the account handle—the name that begins with the @ symbol on Twitter—without losing their badges. Twitter may also revoke badges if the account violates the services’ rules.
Twitter said it plans to expand the categories of eligible users to potentially include scientists, academics, and religious leaders later this year. In July, the service plans to roll out a new label for automated accounts that would notify the public that it is run by a bot like those that are automatically publishing COVID vaccine appointment openings. And Twitter is working on creating memorial accounts for users who die.
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