We’re reasonably sure Thomas More didn’t have Twitter in mind when he wrote his 1516 speculative political masterpiece, Utopia. (Citation needed.) And yet, the internet micro-blogging site may soon be about to usher its users into More’s hypothetical perfect society, with The Verge reporting today that the company might soon be opening the path to the fabled promised land of verification to all.
As represented by the alluring, forbidden blue checkmark, verification has long been the largely unintentional prime metric of Twitter social status, confirming that, yes, this actor or writer or internet celebrity making that self-promoting tweet or dick joke really is who they say they are. The company allowed users to start requesting their own verification a few years back, but the standards were notoriously rigorous, with many poor supplicants being sent away to choke down their unverified gruel. Now, the company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, says he intends to open up verification to the unwashed, 280-character masses.
Talking on Periscope today, Dorsey said, “The intention is to open verification to everyone. And to do it in a way that’s scalable, where [Twitter] is not in the way and people can verify more facts about themselves and we don’t have to be the judge or imply any bias on our part.” David Gasca, the company’s director of product, talked about the accidental knock-on effects of the verification process, saying, “The main problem is, we use [the checkmark] to mean identity. But in user research…users think of it as credibility, [that] Twitter stands behind this person and what they’re saying is great and authentic, which is not what we meant.” And so, soon, we might all be verified—provided we’re willing to share even more personal information with the company, anyway—creating exactly the sort of extremely loud and meme-based egalitarian society that More once dreamed of. (Probably.)