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Twitter’s verified accounts now open to all users

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Twitter has started letting all users request for a verified account, the company said in a release. The feature will require users to fill up a form with information like a verified phone number and email id, a bio, a website link, public Tweets, header and profile photos and a birth date, and submit it for verification.

The social media platform will then decide which profiles to approve based on the submitted information. The company mentions that for individuals, it will look for the impact they had on their fields and for corporations, the company’s mission. Users will need to provide supporting URLs to support the account holder’s newsworthiness or relevancy in the field. Other than this, the company might request a government issued ID (like a passport) to confirm the user’s identity.

Twitter will reply to applicants via email, and will allow users to reapply for verification in 30 days after receiving a reply, in case their request is denied. The company currently claims to have only 187,000 verified accounts on its platform, from a pool of over 310 million monthly active users. It mentions that this move will enable it to offer “audiences high-quality accounts to follow, and for creators to connect with a broader audience.”

Nikhil adds: This move allows for the proliferation of verified, “Real Name” profiles, by choice. Remember that Facebook’s forced Real Name policy faced significant challenges earlier. Real Names bring accountability to social networks, and help them identify users in case of complaints of hate speech and abuse, in case the person filing the complaint wants to take action. The challenge for Twitter is to figure out how to actually verify millions of people asking for verification, some of which they address with mobile number verification. Another way it partly addresses the abuse issue is by allowing users to view verified accounts only, thus automatically giving users the liberty to filter out bots and trolls. However, this may also end up disenfranchising those who choose to remain anonymous, but aren’t abusive: for example, people from vulnerable minority communities, such as those from the LGBT community, who find a sense of freedom in anonymity.

Other developments:

– Last month, Twitter acquired the London-based Magic Pony to enhance its machine learning capabilities in image processing; this was Twitter’s third acquisition overall in a machine learning company.

– The same month, Twitter acquired a stake in online music discovery service SoundCloud for $70 million. In May, it was reported that the company was looking to buy SoundCloud  but walked away from the deal.

– In the same month, Mumbai-based advertising technology firm Fork Media tied up with Twitter to use the latter’s enterprise advertising tool Gnip.

– Twitter also started testing a new ad unit called Promoted Tweet Carousel last month. Note that about a week earlier the microblogging platform had dissolved its commerce team and paused development on its Buy Button ad unit.

Image credit: Flickr user keiyac under CC BY 2.0

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