Twitter to launch two verification systems

A sign attached to Twitter’s global headquarters is viewed from a sidewalk on Market Street in San Francisco, California. June 18, 2014. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk/Creative Commons)

Executives at Twitter said this week that the social media company will soon offer two different labels for verified users.

Later this year, Twitter will replace the blue verification badge on some accounts with a new “Official” label, which will be awarded to corporate executives, government officials and members of the news media.

At the same time, Twitter is moving forward with plans to make the traditional blue verification badge available to any user who is willing to pay for Twitter Blue, the company’s premium subscription offering.

On Tuesday, Twitter product manager Esther Crawford said Twitter Blue subscribers won’t have to verify their identity in order to get the blue badge as part of their subscription. Twitter intends to continue using the term “verified” for the blue badge.

Accounts with the “Official” label will be able to upgrade to a blue verified badge by subscribing to Twitter Blue, which is scheduled to relaunch after the midterm election at a proposed cost of $8 a month.

Tech mogul Elon Musk acquired Twitter for around $44 billion last month. Before the deal closed, Musk claimed he wanted to make the verification process simpler and more-transparent for Twitter users, arguing that the blue verification badge was more of a status symbol instead of a utility.

But plans to offer two different types of verified accounts appear to run counter to Musk’s claim of simplicity. Twitter offered no information on how it would verify that an account is “Official,” nor did it say how currently verified accounts can apply for “Official” status.

It was not clear if being labeled as an “Official” account carries other perks. Musk has previously said Twitter Blue users will see tweets from other verified accounts toward the top of their feed, suggesting a Twitter Blue subscription will make a user’s own tweets more visible to others.

While some users have been critical of Musk’s plans to roll the blue badge into a paid product, at least one company says the research indicates he may be headed in the right direction — but likely isn’t charging enough for Twitter Blue.

On Tuesday, the behavioral research platform Veylinx said around 23 percent of Twitter users are open to the idea of paying $8 a month for Twitter Blue, but that Musk could maximize his revenue potential if he increased the subscription price to $10 a month.

“It’s ironic that Elon Musk is revamping the Twitter verification system without verifying who would use it and what they would be willing to pay,” Anouar El Haji, the founder and chief executive of Veylinx, said in a statement emailed to The Desk on Tuesday. “If he’s seeking to create a new revenue stream, he can do better than rely on online polls to guide his decisions.”

There is also data that suggests Musk’s plan to charge for the blue badge will benefit the company overall, with 56 percent of people surveyed by Veylinx saying they feel Musk’s plan to charge and expand Twitter’s verification system will have a positive impact on the platform.