Numeracle previously reported on the launch of a paid verification service for individual Twitter users, but on March 30th, 2023, Twitter announced the launch of Twitter Verified Organizations, a service that “enables organizations of all types – businesses, non-profits, and government institutions – to sign up and manage their verification and to affiliate and verify any related account.”
Twitter is once again confusing the concepts of verifying the identity of a user and determining whether a user is willing to pay a subscription fee. Twitter users want to know whether the account they are reading and reacting to is who it claims to be. Although we’re not here to question Twitter’s business model, the transition from the old system of a limited number of verified accounts for prominent people and organizations to a hodge-podge of labels that depend more on the willingness to pay than an indicator of verified identity is confusing at best, and prone to abuse at worst.
Purchasing a subscription gives the organization a “gold checkmark and square avatar if they are a business or non-profit, or a grey checkmark and circular avatar if they are a governmental or multilateral organization.” Organizations may also identify affiliated Twitter accounts to receive the same check mark and an affiliate badge.
Twitter announced that the subscription would cost “$1,000/month (plus any applicable tax) and $50/month (plus any applicable tax) for each additional affiliate,” specifically in the United States, with individual pricing listed by country.
As of April 1, 2023, Twitter plans to begin removing the verified check marks of existing organizations. However, The New York Times reported that Twitter would waive the fees for its 500 largest advertising clients and 10,000 most followed brands, companies, and organizations. It is unclear whether those organizations will be required to reapply for verification under the new program. Axios separately reported that the White House and White House staff would retain verified status.
On April 2, 2023, Twitter removed the verified check mark from the New York Times’ Twitter account. The removal happened hours after Elon Musk commented that the Times’ check mark would be removed in response to public statements that they would not pay for verification. The Times’ account remained unverified as of the morning of April 3rd.
Assuming your business has $1,000 a month to spare on Twitter verification, what does it take to become verified? According to Twitter’s post on the subject, to be an eligible verified organization under the new process, you must meet the following criteria:
There is no stated requirement to provide business entity or ownership information. There is not even a stated requirement for the email address provided to match the business website domain.
According to a New York Times article referencing an internal Twitter document viewed by the Times, “All accounts that purchase check marks will be reviewed to make sure they are not impersonating someone, according to the document.” No further details have been released on how such reviews would be conducted, but based on the released criteria and application form, we believe it would be impossible for Twitter employees to adequately identify organizations and protect against impersonation.
The legacy requirements for businesses to become verified prior to the monetization of verified status included items such as:
The requirements for government organizations went further:
Revoking existing verified accounts in favor of a lower standard for verification makes it far more likely that accounts will be improperly verified and impersonated. Standard practices for business verification involve, at an absolute minimum, a review of the organization’s legal entity registration information, something that Twitter does not state it will request from applicants.
Numeracle applied to become a Verified Organization and received a confirmation email stating that “we’ll be reviewing applications this month on a rolling basis”:
While we received this email on March 31st, presumably, “this month” means the month of April 2023. No other information has been requested of Numeracle by Twitter, but we will update this article in the event that we receive further information.
The historical value of Twitter's verified status has been the authenticity and trustworthiness it denotes for Twitter users, notwithstanding its history of impersonation since verification became a commodity. Twitter highlighted the value of authenticity in its automated response email to Numeracle’s application:
Right. Twitter apparently intended the launch of Verified Organizations to reduce impersonation of accounts, but Twitter’s processes tell a different story. This latest Twitter experiment continues to miss the mark on verified identity and prioritizes profits over security.
Dear Elon. If you’d like to actually create “the most trusted place on the internet for organizations to reach their followers,” give us a call.
For more information on Numeracle’s Entity Identity Management identity verification platform, visit numeracle.com/verified-identity.