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Twitter CEO Wants to Open Up Verified Accounts to Everyone

Twitter wants to make it possible for any user to get a verified account with a blue check-mark — so that verification doesn’t seem like some kind of endorsement by Twitter.

CEO Jack Dorsey discussed the idea in a 47-minute live-stream on Twitter’s Periscope on Thursday.

“The intention is to open verification to everyone, and to do it in a way that is scalable where [Twitter is] not in the way,” the CEO said. “And people can verify more facts about themselves, and we don’t have to be the judge or imply any bias on our part.”

That’s something of a change for Twitter, which previously had seen the open nature of the platform as a strength relative to services like Facebook. But the anonymity possible on Twitter has created a swamp of trolls, bullies, spam-bots and bad actors seeking to spread misinformation — including those with ties to Russia who were aiming to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Last fall, Twitter was met with a fierce backlash after the platform verified one of the organizers of the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Va. In the wake of the uproar, Twitter temporarily suspended the verification program.

Currently, Twitter says accounts are eligible to be verified “if it is determined to be an account of public interest. Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.”

But there’s a perception problem with Twitter’s blue check-mark badges for verified accounts: according to product management director David Gasca, who also appeared in Dorsey’s Periscope broadcast. Users “think of it as credibility, like Twitter stands behind this person,” Gasca said.

Overall, Twitter is now focusing on the “health” of the social interactions on its service, Dorsey has said. The No. 1 priority for the company right now is understanding the “overall cohesive, comprehensive health of the platform,” he said at an investors conference in February.

In a series of tweets on March 1, Dorsey admitted that Twitter didn’t anticipate the scope of negative behavior the platform has enabled. The company issued a public request for proposals from researchers “to help us identify how we measure the health of Twitter, keep us accountable to share our progress with the world and establish a way forward for the long-term.”

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