Twitter may never figure out how to handle account verification.
The micro-blogging platform announced Friday that it would once again pump the brakes on taking applications for account verification, the process by which accounts belonging to famous or otherwise noteworthy people can get a blue checkmark badge on their profile. Existing applications will still be reviewed, but anyone who wanted to ask Twitter for verification but hadn’t done so yet will have to wait an indefinite amount of time before applications are accepted again.
While Twitter’s official statement didn’t list specific reasons for doing this beyond a vague call to improve the process, it’s not tough to figure out if you’ve been following along lately. Over the past month, Twitter was found to have verified both a fake account claiming to belong to novelist Cormac McCarthy and a number of obviously fraudulent bot accounts. These incidents called into question Twitter’s application process that had just been relaunched in May of this year. (Even during the years-long verification pause though, some folks, like CEO Jack Dorsey’s mom and ’80s band Whitesnake, still got a blue check.)
Twitter had already briefly suspended its new verification process a week after launch due to a high volume of requests. That’s not to mention one of many reasons it had to be relaunched in the first place: Back in 2017, Twitter’s previous verification mechanism bestowed a badge upon a notable white supremacist.
So yeah, needless to say, it’s been a bumpy road for a feature that’s merely intended to stem the tide of fake accounts for famous people. Twitter’s more open than ever before about how it chooses who gets verified, but now it needs to work on managing the deluge and blocking fakers. There may not be a perfect solution, but there has to be one that doesn’t easily let people impersonate someone as famous as Cormac McCarthy.