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Not everyone deserves that blue tick.
Twitter has many verified users. We trust them to be honest and give us a sense of truthfulness amongst the unverified masses.
The reality is that many of Twitter’s verified users have sinned, and a forfeiture committee is necessary to deprive them from their title. The New Inquiry editor Adrian Chen (unverified, 21.1K followers) wrote in the New Yorker this week that “some might even argue the obligation—to de-verify users if they recklessly tweet false information. This might be messy in practice, but the judicious de-verification of even one high-profile journalist would probably be enough to send a message to the rest.”
Here are a few clear cases when Twitter ought to force users to forfeit their esteemed verified title, or just eliminate it for them. People who fall into these categories are also fit for an immediate unfollow.
No-one asked them whether they care to stay verified after their death. It is one thing to keep their pages on a digi-life support system using all sorts of agents and PR people, not to mention pre-scheduled tweets by the deceased themselves, but leaving it blue-ticked suggests these tweeting-dead are still doing it themselves in real time. Amy Winehouse, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Walker. It’s getting creepier and creepier.
Thank you to those who sent bday wishes to Ms. Taylor. Her official Twitter account is now @ElizabethTaylor, curated by her trust.
— Elizabeth Taylor (@DameElizabeth) February 27, 2014
This includes people like Lara Logan from 60 Minutes, who admitted letting a falsely named Benghazi agitator on air, as well as people like Jonah Lehrer from the New Yorker, who plagiarized Bob Dylan quotes in his books (paste-paste artist). Sure, it’s OK to plagiarize good stuff on Twitter, as long as it rings true on some level, but verified users must not tweet links to their soon-to-be-discovered plagiarized articles published elsewhere.
Here is the text of my speech. I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve done. http://t.co/vw3KJgT4
— jonahlehrer (@jonahlehrer) February 13, 2013
Hidden sponsored tweets
If you receive a Cartier product for free to tweet about Cartier products, you must tweet about that, and not about the actual Cartier product as if it’s a really fun product. It goes beyond hashtagging or not hashtagging #SponsoredTweet (which has a become a parody tag). The core obligation of a verified user is to tell us when someone offered them perks for tweets, and for how much. The following public must know.
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) May 9, 2013
Many B-list celebrities pretend to have forgotten their passwords or even their usernames. Others simply haven’t tweeted since 2011, and no-one noticed. It’s cool to let them stay on Twitter, but the line must be drawn. They have to be deverified. Like Reagan said: “Trust – but deverify.”
This pertains to those who have deceived their followers knowingly, or those have just been playing too many mind games like Patton Oswalt (for more). It’s exhaustipating to try and laugh out loud from Twitter comedians’ Twitter in-jokes. And, admittedly, a tricky one to rule on. So these funny dudes’ status should be suspended, but not indefinitely. Plus, it’s crucial for Twitter to start deverifying verified users who bought fake followers or fake retweets from this guy:
Having said that, Click Farms are still a genuinely booming industry in Bangladesh and elsewhere, and we shouldn’t be condescending by pretending to be morally above it. Everyone is fit for duped traffic. They deserve our money, for fake views’ sake, as well as fake followers and fake YouTube dislikes. One day they’ll be able to sell fake unlikes.
More RTs than tweets
If a page exists to self-verify an already verified self by RTing everyone who flatters them but almost nothing else, it’s a done deal. They can’t excuse it with “really we have nothing to say, it’s all about the fans.” Everyone can find their fans without their help, really. And if one turns his or her personal page into a foundation before they die, and keeps the followers, like Alec Baldwin, they mustn’t keep the title. Soz.
“Let them know you’re coming. Let them knooooow…you’re coming.” http://t.co/2Fz0yuj04n
— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) May 7, 2014
Nimrod Kamer is a journalist and satirist based in the U.K. whose work has appeared in the GQ, Vice, Wired, the Guardian and Huffington Post, as well as on BBC Newsnight. He is the author of The Social Climber's Handbook: A Shameless Guide.