My Thoughts on Social Media Checkmarks

My Thoughts on Social Media Checkmarks

Check Marks - Image via Pixabay

While all eyes are on how Elon Musk is handling the blue checkmark over at Twitter and debating the checkmark's value and devaluing, I submit the checkmark isn't just a Twitter problem but also a social media problem no matter what platform you're using. Over the past couple weeks, I've come to the conclusion that it is a huge mistake to confuse verification with designating someone as notable or not. The use of verification for only notable users, which in turns designates the remaining users as non-notable, is divisive and never should have happened. While I reluctantly have sided with Mr. Musk that it was time for the legacy blue checkmark to exit Twitter, I also see him also making the same mistake with verification and Twitter's paid subscription, Twitter Blue. 

Unlike others that may refuse to subscribe to Twitter Blue, I am a paid subscriber to the service and have been since 2021. So I say this as a subscriber, I currently dislike that Twitter has the blue checkmark, whether that be for legacy notable, a verified paid subscriber, or more recently a million followers. If you have a million followers, do you really need a checkmark? I have no issue with the blue checkmark or some other badge indicating that an account holder has been verified as I have often argued that verification should be necessary for almost all social media accounts. But just as the blue checkmark system being used as a way to distinguish notable users from ordinary users was a mistake, only offering verification to paid subscribers is making the same mistake twice over.

A tweet from Bryan Ruby declaring he received the blue checkmark.

If you've read so far it should come to no surprise to you, I hope the legacy verification system never returns. Let's not kid ourselves, the verification process at Twitter was broken well before Mr. Musk owned Twitter. Let's stop rewriting that part of history that Mr. Musk broke Twitter. How can you break something that was already broken? But it's hard to argue that Musk has found the secret sauce and all is well now. The new system for verification at Twitter is also broken and needs a course correction.

If I had the power, I would now separate Twitter Verification from Twitter Blue subscription. Don't get me wrong I love many of the features in Twitter Blue such as editing and undo. I don't mind paying for these features via Twitter Blue as I always have. But if you really want to even the playing field and allow a town square where all are treated equally, then you allow all users on Twitter to be verified outside of the paid Twitter Blue subscription. If we really care about verification then verification needs to be for all...whether that be notable, ordinary, non-subscriber, and paid subscriber.

Unlike what others say, there is a verification process for the blue checkmark within Twitter Blue and it is pretty good, not automatic, and requires some patience to be verified. For instance, I recently tweaked my username and have been waiting for the past couple weeks to get my blue checkmark back. I'm not saying Twitter's verification can't be improved, but I really wish the reporters/influencers/bloggers criticizing Twitter's current verification system would stop judging it until after they've gone through the verification process themselves. However, there are other methods that don't require a credit card or subscription for verifying accounts that would work too. For instance on Post.News I had to verify who I was with a government ID, a current selfie image of myself, and a link from my personal website to my profile on Post. Post also accepts links from other social media platforms as a part of their verification system.

Post Profile of Bryan Ruby

I personally like I can use my "official website" to verify it's me on other social media platforms such as what Mastodon currently does. I know some people believe there should be bigger hurdles to verification but there are some reasons why someone may not want or cannot show a government ID to verify that they are who they are. With Mastodon all it takes is putting a snippet of code on your own website or blog (similar to a linkback) and you get your green checkmark. The online magazine, Ars Technica, recently did this for their Mastodon account and it works well. As I write this article, if you currently search Mastodon you 'll find at least seven profiles for Ars Technica, but you'll find only one official account with what the community calls "green checkmarks". The point here is verification is possible for all under a number of different processes, whether you're notable or not notable.

Medium Mastodon Profile of Bryan Ruby

So once again, I really don't care whether people have a notable blue checkmark or not on Twitter. To me it's always been about the content of a user's post and whether I wanted to get to know that person better. I'm not sure why others don't get this but if I cared to guess it's because business and/or vanity have a way of clouding the original intent of social networks. What I do care though is if the people behind the account are genuine, authentic, and are who they say they are. There are plenty of ways to verify if the account holder is who they say they are and personally I prefer those "other ways" than fully relying on the platform itself.

This is not to say I won't take an interest in a platform's verification system, nor am I against the idea of something designating that your account has been verified. It's just that I've come to the age where I think I'm done with social media platforms that want to use a checkmark to designate whether I'm notable or not notable on their platform. I'm tired of being judged on what my value as a person or content creator strictly is by the decision of a third party. On social media, that judgement should be reserved based on the content of my posts and the people that care to read my posts. More importantly, that judgement of self-worth should ultimately come from me. I'm important. I'm notable. If you're a social media platform or a social media user that doesn't get that every user is notable, it's your loss not mine.

This article was originally published on socPub.