Twitter just admitted its "blue tick" verification is a mess issuing new guideline and revoking badge for some users

Lynsey Barber
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Blue ticks ≠ endorsement (Source: Getty)

Another day, another effort by Twitter to clear up exactly what its rules are for users after 11 years of operating, four of them as a publicly run company.

This time, its verification system is under the microscope.

Newly returned co-founder Biz Stone - who earlier this year warned of tech becoming the new tobacco - admitted the little blue tick has "become perceived as an endorsement" rather than as a symbol of authentication.

The company added it should have addressed the issue earlier.

"Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance," the company tweeted.

"We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon."

All new verifications have been put on hold and it's now reviewing the whole system and currently verified accounts, while new guidelines for verified accounts have been introduced - and enforced.

Several accounts, including that of founder of UK far right group the English Defence League Tommy Robinson and US white nationalist Richard Spencer, have had their blue ticks revoked.

It's the latest in a long line of promises to clear up issues on the platform around abuse and hate speech.

The new guidelines for verified users say "Twitter reserves the right to remove verification at any time without notice" and that verification could be revoked for "behaviours on and off Twitter".

It listed the following areas as reasons a blue tick could be removed:

  • Intentionally misleading people on Twitter by changing one's display name or bio.
  • Promoting hate and/or violence against, or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. Supporting organizations or individuals that promote the above.
  • Inciting or engaging in harassment of others.
  • Violence and dangerous behaviour
    • Directly or indirectly threatening or encouraging any form of physical violence against an individual or any group of people, including threatening or promoting terrorism
    • Violent, gruesome, shocking, or disturbing imagery
    • Self-harm, suicide
  • Engaging in activity on Twitter that violates the Twitter Rules.

The move is a u-turn on last year, when it opened up verification to many more people by letting anyone apply. It now says that step worsened the perception that verification equals endorsement.

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