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Twitter Is Looking to Re-Open its Account Verification Process, Seeks Feedback on New Guidelines

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Get ready to stake your case – after shutting down its account verification application process back in 2017, Twitter says that it’s now looking to re-open applications for account verification which could give you a chance to get your own blue checkmark, making you infinitely more important than others on the platform.

But hang on – as you can see, the actual policy around what verification means isn’t set in stone yet.

As Twitter notes, it’s currently seeking feedback from the community as to what people expect the blue checkmark to represent, in order to revamp its previous, flawed process, which ended up being a mess due to the different ways that Twitter employees applied the qualifiers, and who should be approved and not, etc.

That’s what lead to the initial pause on the public application process – because there was a level of confusion around what the blue checkmark meant, no one really knew who should be approved for one, who should not. That lead to Twitter verifying the profile of reported a white supremacist leader – despite, at that time, looking to take more action against hate speech. Because there was a level of uncertainty over whether the badge signified ‘identity’ or ‘endorsement’, Twitter shut the whole thing down, and while certain accounts have still been verified since then, public applications have been off the cards entirely for three years. 

Now they could be coming back – but Twitter first needs to ensure that there’s clear understanding about what verification actually means, both internally and externally.

In order to address this, Twitter’s published a proposed overview of which accounts should be considered for verification, along with a new survey to seek feedback on its process.

The first tier of profiles that Twitter says should be eligible for verification are ‘Notable Accounts’, with the blue tick signifying that the account is an authentic representation of that person or entity, serving an immediate public purpose.

The six types of accounts Twitter has filed under this heading are:

  1. Government
  2. Companies, Brands and Non- Profit Organizations
  3. News
  4. Entertainment
  5. Sports
  6. Activists, Organizers, and Other Influential Individuals

Those make sense – marking official accounts in these categories serves a clear purpose, and while its public application process has been paused, Twitter has continued to approve verification for accounts in these categories.

But the more complex, and divisive arguments around verification come from the public, when people want their own blue checkmark. If you’ve got lots of followers and you spend a lot of time on Twitter, why shouldn’t you get your own checkmark, right?

This comes down to the core of the question around Twitter verification – does the blue checkmark simply signify identity, in which case, anyone who can provide their ID documents should qualify? Or does it signify celebrity, which is a more nebulous and subjective criteria?

That’s what Twitter’s now trying to determine – in the public survey on expectations around verification, Twitter looks to glean insight what people think the blue tick means.

Twitter verification survey

Twitter also seeks to clarify whether people see the verification badge as a general qualifier of identity, or as an endorsement of that person from Twitter. 

The distinction here is key – as noted, Twitter has previously given blue checkmarks to users of questionable background, and if people see that as Twitter giving their support to that person, as opposed to a marker of identity, then that’s a problem for the brand.

As such, Twitter needs to clarify what its badge actually represents – but even so, this doesn’t seem like the best way to address these issues and formulate a better policy.

Back in June, it seemed like Twitter was going to go with a new form of verification that would signify that a user had confirmed their identity, with reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong uncovering this explanation.

Twitter verification explainer

That relates to ‘confirming’ your Twitter account, not verification exactly, which seemed like it could be a different form of profile badge. That would cater to those looking to confirm their identity, who were not considered to be in the top tier of qualifiers for account verification.

Maybe that’s what Twitter is looking to go with – as noted by Twitter:

“The blue verified badge isn’t the only way we are planning to distinguish accounts on Twitter. Heading into 2021, we’re committed to giving people more ways to identify themselves, such as new account types and labels. We’ll share more in the coming weeks.”

Maybe, then, Twitter will make account verification available to ‘Notable accounts’ only, those which fit into a strict criteria of celebrity or status, while it could also add another tier of accounts that have confirmed their ID documents, with a different type of badge.

That seems to cater to the key elements – and while there will still be debates over what counts as ‘notable’, the criteria listed above seems fairly clear. The ‘entertainment’ category could lead to questions, as could the ‘other influential individuals’ marker. But if Twitter has an internal review panel to approve such, that could be a more workable solution.

Twitter has also been looking to add dedicated badges for bot accounts, to provide more transparency in interactions, and that could be another category it looks to implement. 

So we could soon have three different types of account badges to signify who or what each is.

Will that clear things up? Probably not, especially given that many people who’ve already been incorrectly approved for verification, based on these revised guidelines, will still be circulating on the platform, which will maintain a level of confusion over what the badge means.

But maybe, if Twitter revises the rules and removes the badges from those who no longer qualify based on the update, that could work. 

Maybe. Still seems like it’ll cause a lot of headaches.

You can take the Twitter verification survey yourself here.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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4 new social media features you need to know about this week

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New social media features to know this week


Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.

LinkedIn

Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.

Instagram

After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.

 

 

First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.

Twitter

In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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