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Topics: Twitter

Verified Disaster: Twitter’s Latest Decision Restricts The Visibility of Candidates

News reports indicate Twitter has a new policy for verifying accounts of candidates running for public office in the United States. And that new policy presents some problems. 

As you may know already, Twitter paused its “general verifications” program in 2017 as the company reassessed how it will hand out the famous blue checkmarks. In the meantime, candidates, elected officials, and other prominent individuals have been able to go through Twitter and get their accounts “verified.” 

No longer will candidates be able to do that – at least not until they win their party’s primary. This matters for several reasons:

First, verification authenticates the account. It lets other users on the platform know this is the official account for a candidate running for office. At a time when foreign interference in our elections is a huge concern – especially online – this is a huge benefit. 

Secondly, it increases the visibility of a campaign’s tweets. When a verified user replies to another user’s tweet, that reply is given more weight and it appears at or near the top of the replies. Additionally, verified users have the ability to filter their notifications to view only those from other verified individuals.

Lastly, this decision makes it much easier for those who want to confuse voters by creating parody or impersonation accounts.

Now, when it comes to campaigning, the benefits of verification will fall to primarily two groups: incumbents and individuals who have ran for office previously, secured their party’s nomination, and then went on to lose the general election. Incumbents don’t need more advantages and neither do candidates who have run for office before.

This “solution” causes more problems than it creates, and Twitter can and must do better.

Facebook and Instagram have a process by which candidates running for office can easily obtain verification by demonstrating they are who they say they are – often within 24 hours of the request – and Twitter should too. 

If this decision is a demonstration of anything, it is 1) Twitter’s poor judgment and 2) if you’re planning to run for office, you cannot rely on the consistency of big tech platforms to help you get your message heard. Incumbents and individuals who have previously run for office already have plenty of advantages. Greater visibility online does not need to be another one.

Luckily for your next campaign, The Prosper Group knows how to ensure your message gets to the people you need to reach – regardless of whatever roadblocks the big tech platforms throw in your way. In fact, our ability to target specific audiences with tailored messages has won multiple awards just last year. We’d love to put that ability to work for you next!

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