Leading social media sites have been changing things up a bit lately, and have started the trend of offering verified accounts to certain individuals, businesses and other organizations. What is a verified account? It’s really simple: having verified accounts simply means the public can easily see if an account is authentic—in other words, that the name being represented in the account is actually who it claims to be.
Facebook has introduced verified accounts along with the recent release of vanity URLs – www.facebook.com/username. The site has reserved a large number of various usernames in a database waiting to be claimed for use. If a business is looking to obtain these restricted business names, and if the name is not already on the list, Facebook will place a hold on it making it no longer available to the general public. Obviously, the point here is that the business will be asked to prove their legal right to that name before they can receive it.
Twitter is also on the same page, but is taking an even more proactive approach. Twitter’s team will actually make contact with the person or entity that the account represents to verify their authenticity. Verified accounts get stamped with a ‘verified account’ sticker on that profile, helping to alleviate the issue of counterfeit accounts and impersonations. Celebrities, musicians, athletes, public officials, and public agencies are welcome to take advantage of Twitter verified accounts, however, unlike Facebook, the service is still not available for businesses.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that while a verified account does validate an account, it does not necessarily mean that that celebrity or organization head is actually the one who is behind all of those Tweets or Facebook updates. As an audience, we remain unable to confirm that a celebrity with a verified account is not simply having their assistant handle the tasks.
Overall, this trend is an important step in the evolution of social media. As social media sites continue to grow, so will the number of businesses and celebrities looking to capitalize and generate additional awareness from these important engagement tools. In order to maintain the social nature that has allowed these tools to spread at unprecedented levels, and avoid spam and piracy, transparency will continue to need to be an integral factor. Expect to see numerous other websites and services following Facebook and Twitter, and creating their own form of a verified account system.