Twitter: Verified Accounts and Leadership Badges

Communities online use titles and badges to show trust and reputation. Twitter is fast tracking trust and reputation by offering to link offline personalities with an online verified account.

Twitter is verifying famous people accounts (companies may come later). Details here. Feedback Form for applying. This post is closely associated to The Role of Leaderboards in Online Communities

Online Community Badges

Anyone who has done my “Building and Maintaining an Online Community” course will know about the option to give “badges” to leaders as reward programs. It helps them sort out value systems and find interesting people/content.

  • Helps subgroup that is tribing up identify major players (Most Helpful on Forum) and each other (Game Guilds)
  • can then be used to create leaderboards (top lists) that help newcomers navigate to interesting and popular members (Most Friends, Best Content)
  • and ensures appropriate behaviour in the forum or game or whatever you are building. (Naughty = no badge).

Online Community Titles

Another -and I think critical use – of badges is to verify official members of staff. Moderators or admins. In my post Major Security Bug in MySpace from 2 years ago I wrote about the danger of not locking down titles like “Moderator” or “Admin” which allows anyone (including predators) to impersonate a Moderator, and not giving their staff BADGES so that they stand out as Official Admins. Still hasn’t been fixed. MySpace at the moment has 404 members with Moderator titles. Yet they only have around 1000 staff so I doubt they are all moderators. My fake Official_Admin account is still there. 

Build Identity

Both Titles and Badges help to build Identity. 


If the host of the community hands out titles and badges, then the community is fasttracked to trusting that member, and the member feels they are valued and have fast tracked their reputation. 

Verified Member titles


Community badges and titles are not to be confused with badges or titles with “Verified Account” next to them. Yes, the host is fast tracking trust and reputation for that member. In this case Twitter.

What is a Verified Account? 

To prevent identity confusion, Twitter is experimenting (beta testing) with a ‘Verified Account’ feature. We’re working to establish authenticity with people who deal with impersonation or identity confusion on a regular basis. Accounts with a Verified are the real thing!

But it’s being done to verify an offline, real world, not virtual online identity. Bringing established reputation from another social network (“real life”) to a new online social network.  Many communities build trust and reputation more comprehensively online than offline and don’t need an offline connection to do so.


However Twitter is quickly becoming the Socialazzi tool of choice, so I can see why they are verifying their famous members. I just made up Socialazzi. Just ignore it – short hand for the social network as paparazzi, following society leaders such as politicians, athletes and pop stars for breaking gossip news direct from the source and disintermediating gossip mags.

It will be interesting to see if companies e.g. Coca Cola pay for a verified account. Famous people get it for free because Twitter values their custom.

What about businesses?

We’re not testing this feature now with businesses. However, if you’re interested in verification for your business, fill out this feedback form and let us know!

If I were Twitter, I’d be charging sooner rather than later. It will stop damaging “You allowed my good name to be besmirched by an imposter” court cases. Unless it opens up floodgates instead…

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