Changes to Twitter verification cause confusion for museums - Museums Association

Changes to Twitter verification cause confusion for museums

Many organisations are now unable to confirm their authenticity to stakeholders

Changes to the account verification system on the social media website Twitter have left some museums and cultural organisations unable to confirm their authenticity to other users.

Many sector organisations use Twitter regularly as part of their digital marketing, communications and engagement strategies. Verification previously took the form of a small blue checkmark next to the name and handle of notable people and organisations, offering confidence to other Twitter users that verified accounts are authentic and trustworthy.

The process of becoming a verified account formerly comprised submitting a number of pieces of evidence to authenticate the account’s ownership and significance. Verification was free for all eligible accounts.

Following the changes, any user with an account at least 90 days old and a verified phone number can pay $8 per month for Twitter Blue, a premium Twitter membership which includes a verified blue checkmark. It is not known what, if any, moderation systems are in place to prevent impersonators or parodies from verifying their accounts.

Organisations can now apply for a gold checkmark for Verified Organization status, which costs $1,000 per month. Some organisations in the cultural sector have been gifted Verified Organization status, including the constituent museums of the Science Museum Group.

Adam Koszary, head of digital at the Audience Agency and formerly social media manager at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Museum of English Rural Life, said: “Twitter verification used to simply mean your organisation was the ‘real’ account – now, anyone can pay $8 a month for a blue tick. Approval for a verified organisation gold tick requires submitting proof you are who you say you are, but also means paying a budget-busting $1,000 per month for the privilege.


“Because take-up of Twitter Blue and verified status has been so low, many previously verified accounts in the cultural sector have been gifted Twitter Blue or gold ticks for free, which could suggest to other users that they are spending public money on Elon Musk’s Twitter when they actually have no say in the matter.

“This is an issue because by making the new verification system his flagship policy, Elon Musk has made subscribing to Twitter Blue a proxy endorsement of himself, including his anti-trans tirades, hypocritical position on free speech, attacks on journalists and removal of moderation around LGBTQ+ discrimination and Covid-19 disinformation.

“It means what should be a simple cost/benefit decision for cultural organisations has now become a question of values and ethics. Ultimately, what we are weighing up here is whether paying for subscription features outweighs the reputational risk of filling Elon Musk’s pockets, with the associated ridicule from users and ‘Block the Blue’ campaigns. Some organisations will weigh that up against the benefits – more visibility and reach, longer tweets and even an edit button – and decide it’s simply not worth the headache.”

The nature of Twitter verification has changed several times following Elon Musk's purchase of the website on 28 October 2022.

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