As a verified user on Twitter, it’s an easy system to criticize – Twitter’s attempt to handle misinformation running rampant by attaching real identity verification to persons and brands of interest has backfired somewhat in that it has created a class structure on its own platform. Verified users like myself are offered a filtered feed, arguably more efficient report responses, and of course the added legitimacy that – while verification remains semi-frozen – is unavailable to newer accounts.
Yesterday, multiple accounts were rapidly compromised via a bitcoin scam, escalating fears of the growing rate at which one-time password SMS verification messages for Twitter accounts are being intercepted. Elon Musk, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Barack Obama – the targets were big. To prevent it getting worse, Twitter took an unanticipated step and halted all verified accounts from being able to tweet.
In my experience, I was still able to retweet and direct message people – some of us ended up using the @everyword account (that tweets every word in the English language over time) to retweet messages word-by-word to our audiences. The downside is that key accounts representing brands and organizations came to a screeching halt, likely completely disrupting post scheduling, and in some cases, preventing national weather accounts who issue severe weather warnings from informing the public.
The most interesting part of seeing my feed shift was noting the change in tone and focus with a feed that contained no verified content whatsoever. Most of it was jokes at my expense (which I found very amusing), but seeing smaller accounts or ones seen as having less “clout” be able to step out into the spotlight on a stage gone silent was fascinating and has encouraged me to reconsider how I factor in verification to my value judgements of Twitter accounts. But for now, I’m going to post pictures of cats, because the time of blue-tick silence is over.