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Twitter To Accept Blue Check Mark Requests in 2021 Following 3-Year Hiatus

Twitter announced on Tuesday the company would start accepting applications in 2021 for users to be verified after a three-year hiatus.
Twitter announced on Tuesday the company would start accepting applications in 2021 for users to be verified after a three-year hiatus.

After a three-year pause, Twitter is going to let you ask for those little blue check marks again.

The company said Tuesday it will start reviewing applications in 2021 under newly released guidelines.

The blue check, which means Twitter has verified a user's identity, is seen as a status symbol on the platform but the process by which the checks were issued has long been murky and inconsistent.

"We haven't been clear about who can become verified and when, why an account might be unverified, or what it means to be verified," Twitter said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Now, according to Twitter, the guidelines for how blue checks are doled out will be public. But there will also be stepped up enforcement of blue-check violators.

The company said Tuesday it expects to automatically take away more of the blue check marks from users who are inactive or repeatedly break Twitter's rules, an enforcement action aimed at minimizing a user's visibility.

Twitter pioneered the check mark verification back in 2009 as a way of combating impersonators. But in 2017, the company halted its verification program amid a public backlash when Twitter gave a blue check to Jason Kessler, a white nationalist who was the lead organizer of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia.

At the time, Twitter said verification should not be seen as an endorsement but rather a way of authenticating a user's identity. Nonetheless, the company said the incident revealed that its process for validating users was flawed.

"The system is broken and needs to be reconsidered," Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted in November 2017.

Twitter says it is now reformulating its policy, and it is asking for the public's help under the Twitter hashtag #VerificationFeedback.

Twitter will review public input until December 8 and then issue its final policy for blue checks the following week, according to the company.

To receive the blue check, a user must be "notable and active" and work in government, politics, entertainment, sports, news and other industries.

A Twitter official said most of the now-public criteria matches what company employees used internally in deciding which users are blessed with a verification mark.

"We know we can't solve verification with a new policy alone — and that this initial policy won't cover every case for being verified — but it is a critical first step in helping us provide more transparency and fairer standards for verification on Twitter as we reprioritize this work," Twitter wrote in a blog post published on Tuesday. "This version of the policy is a starting point, and we intend to expand the categories and criteria for verification significantly over the next year."

The social network also has verified dozens of users who frequently spread tweets containing misinformation and falsehoods. Under Twitter's new guidelines, only organizations that "adhere to recognized professional standards for journalism" laid out by groups like the Society of Professional Journalists and the International Fact-Checking Network will receive verification.

The tightened standards will result in users and organizations losing verification status, but a Twitter spokesman would not comment further.

In the lead up to the November election, Twitter added "friction" to the platforms to slow down the rapid spread of misinformation, including an extra step before retweeting any posts from another account; labels on tweets that may contain misleading information and warning labels before someone can "like" a post carrying a disputed claim.

Twitter says since unrolling the temporary features, shares of misleading information have dropped nearly 30% on the platform.

Conversely, public health authorities and other experts have been verified by Twitter in recent months as part of a push to provide the public with credible information about the deadly virus.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.