Friday, November 17, 2017

Twitter’s Verified Mess

Albert Wenger:

The net result of all of these mistakes was that the verified checkmark became an “official Twitter” badge. Instead of simply indicating something about the account’s identity it became a stamp of approval.


Just now Twitter has announced a further doubling down on this ridiculously untenable position. Twitter will now deverify accounts that violate its harassment rules. This is a terrible idea for two reasons: First, it puts Twitter deeper into content policing in a way that’s completely unmanageable (e.g., what about the account of someone who is well behaved on Twitter but awful off-Twitter?). Second, it defeats the original purpose of verification. Is an account not verified because it is an impostor or because Twitter deverified it?

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

You can't really control how people feel. Twitter didn't come up with the idea that verification implied approval. Twitter's users did. Given that, I think it's reasonable for Twitter to acknowledge that reality, and deal with it as well as possible.

Perhaps Twitter screwed up with the icon they use for verified accounts, and made it look too much like something positive and prominent, but at this point, it's too late to change just the icon, and ignore how people interpret verification.

Why is it too late to change the icon? People would notice the change, which would generate some conversation, and the language and semantics commonly used would no doubt gradually shift. Twitter could even be more explicit and announce the change while using the opportunity to explain what the icon really means. That way they could at least be seen as making an effort at justifying their design, and could save a bit of face on the flip-flop.

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