Twitter is letting people apply again for blue-and-white check marks, inviting what may be a flood of requests from people who’ve asked for years to get a badge of approval from the social media company.
Twitter said Thursday it would begin rolling out a new process to apply for the coveted verification badges, which have been a status symbol on the internet since Twitter unveiled them in 2009. The company granted them in the past to politicians, celebrities, journalists and other public figures but generally stopped handing them out in 2017 as it considered an overhaul.
Now, after nearly four years of debate inside and outside Twitter about what it means to verify identity online, the San Francisco-based company says the check marks are still valuable to people and will be available again.
“The blue verified badge gives people on Twitter more context about who they’re interacting with,” said B Byrne, a product manager at Twitter who helps to oversee the identity project.
People who want to be labeled as verified on Twitter will be able to apply through their phone’s app once a software update takes effect, which will be as soon as Thursday for some people, according to the company. The full rollout may take weeks.
The criteria to be verified are still somewhat strict, according to Twitter’s policy. Applicants need to be notable in fields such as government, entertainment, sports or political activism, and they need to abide by Twitter’s rules including a ban on the glorification of violence. Later this year, Twitter said it plans to expand verification to more fields such as scientists, academics and religious leaders.
Byrne said Twitter considered relaxing the criteria, even allowing anyone to apply to become verified, but he said doing so would lead to “inauthentic accounts” getting verified “and it wouldn’t be a meaningful signal of anything.”
He also said that Twitter has been adding a significant number of new staff to review the applications, and that it would do so through human review, not automation.
Twitter said it has around 199 million daily active users worldwide, of whom about 360,000 are verified.
Last year, Twitter briefly stopped verified accounts from tweeting during a high-profile security breach, and at times the “blue check” has become a derogatory term in political debates online. Facebook has its own version of the blue-and-white check mark.