Twitter may soon allow any user to sport the signature blue badge that already shows up on the accounts of many celebrities, athletes and public figures.
The social networking platform’s chief executive said Thursday that the verification process is “very broken” in part because some people have seen the badge as an endorsement from the company rather than as an identity verification benchmark.
“The intention is to open verification to everyone,” chief executive Jack Dorsey said during a live-stream chat Thursday, “and to do it in a way that is scalable, where we’re not in the way and people can verify more facts about themselves, and we don’t have to be the judge and imply any bias on our part.”
Twitter suspended its verification process late last year after users criticized the platform for granting the badge to divisive figures, notably Jason Kessler, the organizer of the white supremacist rally that led to violence in Charlottesville last summer.
Some users saw the badge as an endorsement of Kessler’s account. Twitter tried to clarify that the check mark was meant to convey authentic identity, not support from the company.
The application process to receive a badge remains suspended while the company designs a new way to authenticate and verify users. Before the pause went into affect, users could voluntarily ask to be verified by submitting personal information such as their birth date, phone number and a copy of a government-issued ID.
Verified users were also encouraged to take additional security precautions and were auto-enrolled in a feature that requires a user to type in personal information before an account password could be reset.
Within the past year, Twitter has drawn national media attention and heightened scrutiny from members of Congress over attempts by foreign users to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, efforts to harass and abuse other users, and the abundance of automated accounts that amplify misinformation.
Last week, Dorsey invited outside experts to propose ways to evaluate the “health” of conversation on Twitter and devise remedies for the toxic elements found on the social media platform. The company, along with Facebook and Google, has also pledged to disclose more information about the political ads that run on its platform.
The expansion of the verification system would roll out in stages, Dorsey said. People running for office in upcoming U.S. elections would take priority, he said, to prevent users from impersonating candidates and to boost credibility.
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