Dear Twitter: Stop Trying To Make Check Marks Happen

Don’t verify me if I don’t ask to be verified!!!!!!!!

It happened to me yesterday—I was suddenly given a blue checkmark against my will. Congratulations to me, I was official. Officially what? Verified as me? You knew that already, Twitter, you have all my data and probably my fingerprints. It felt like I was I was fourteen, and my mom licked her hand and smoothed over my cowlick and shoved me onstage. Leave me alone, mom, I know I look like a slob—I look like a slob on purpose.

This is a presumptuous overstepping of boundaries. Some of us want to remain plainclothes civilians, that’s just more our speed. Other people wear the uniform really well, and that’s fine, let them have it. They look great.

The blue checkmark of verification used to mean something once, maybe. Mainly it seems to be useful for, like, celebrities and politicians—the kinds of people likely to have parody or fan accounts liable to be confused with their actual one. But why give them to journalists and media people? Maybe it’s a good idea for “engagement reporters” (a real job that is reporting with social media not on marriage engagements, alas), who are likely to contact people who’d otherwise be suspicious (“How do I know you’re really with the New York Times, eh?? Just because it says so in your bio?”).

But for the rest of us who reserve most of our tweeting for televised events we all watch together and complain about, a check mark doesn’t really do anything except make us look like we should know better. So please, Twitter: let me tweet dumb stuff if I want to without an unsolicited press pass.

As Choire wrote three years ago:

For me, the idea of verification taps deep issues about identity, about joining and belonging, and about status. I’d like to think I’d resist the allure of verification. What would be the point for me, beyond vanity? I have no impersonators. My Twitter does nothing of any importance; it’s for jokes and being dumb. But could I resist?

The Unverified

Twitter’s latest round of auto-verifications makes me wonder…Who on earth do they think I am? Are we all about to get sorted by some great quality controller? Yes, somewhat, and that’s probably a good thing:

New Ways to Control Your Experience on Twitter | Twitter Blogs

Turns out this feature was rolled out first to, wait for it, verified users. My favorite headline from yesterday’s news about the Quality Filter was from the Independent (God love the Brits for really telling it like it is): “Twitter adds ‘quality filter’ letting verified users switch off abuse.” Other articles called verified users ‘select people.’ On the one hand, I’m sort of turned off by that categorization, but on the other hand I’m glad Twitter is openly transparent about sorting its users rather than having some kind of internal code or designation for higher-tiered users.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s fine—not great—to sort us, but give me the option to opt out at least! If you had asked, I’d have said no. It’s annoying of me, I know, like those people who grow up in New York City and never get drivers’ licenses OR WORSE, never learn how to drive. I reserve the right to stay back here in economy class. It’s not worth the burden of people expecting more of me somehow because there’s a blue checkmark next to my name. I don’t need your approval, just my dad’s.

Pro tip: if you want to unverify after you get unwillingly verified, just protect your tweets and then un-protect them. Ha!