Why Twitter Should Treat Blue Ticks the Same As Everyone Else


For much of Twitter’s history, verified accounts seem to have been given more leeway than those without blue ticks. This is especially noticeable when it comes to high-profile politicians and world leaders.

Following numerous cases of big accounts pushing boundaries on the platform, Twitter began questioning if it was too lenient. The social media giant also asked users what their thoughts were on the matter.

So, should Twitter treat blue ticks like everyone else? We would argue yes—here’s why…

What Privileges Do Verified Accounts Have?

Twitter makes exceptions for accounts that it classifies as “public interest”. This doesn’t apply to all verified accounts, but rather the verified accounts of world leaders and politicians.

As the company explains on its website:

“Twitter generally actions Tweets that violate our rules. However, we recognize that sometimes it may be in the public interest to allow people to view Tweets that would otherwise be taken down.

But what counts as public interest? According to Twitter:

“We consider content to be in the public interest if it directly contributes to understanding or discussion of a matter of public concern.”

In particular, Twitter’s exemptions apply to “elected and government officials”. The website says that if it feels it’s in the public interest, it will sometimes not take down posts that otherwise would have been removed.

When Have Verified Accounts Pushed the Boundaries on Twitter?

Although Twitter says that it has rarely exercised its exemptions, verified accounts have been involved in controversy numerous times on the platform.

Perhaps the most obvious example is former US President Donald Trump. His various posts about North Korea in 2017 and 2018, for example, were the subject of scrutiny—with some critics arguing that he was inciting violence.

Related: Things That Could Get You Banned on Twitter

Eventually, Twitter permanently suspended Trump in January 2021 after the US Capitol riots. In a blog post explaining the ban, the platform mentioned its public interest policy:

“Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open. However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”

caution tape in front of the us capitol building

After Trump’s suspension, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro told his fans to move away from Twitter and Facebook. Bolsonaro, too, has landed in hot water with the platform before.

In March 2020, the Brazilian leader had posts removed for breaching Twitter’s COVID-19 policy. Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro also had content taken down for similar reasons.

screenshot of covid-19 posts on twitter

Away from politics, other verified accounts have been questioned. Rapper Azealia Banks was banned from the platform in 2016 following racist and homophobic remarks made against the singer Zayn Malik.

She later returned, albeit unverified. However, Banks was banned again in 2020 after comments made related to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why Blue Ticks Should Be Treated the Same as Everyone Else

Verified accounts have a role of responsibility on Twitter. Often with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of followers, their words greatly influence others.

If they regularly post content promoting hate or misinformation, there’s a chance they could inspire others to commit heinous acts.

Even though Twitter has a public interest policy, the reality is that they are not going to get every decision right.

phone loading twitter on top of handle with care box

On occasions, they will keep up posts that should have been deleted. As such, the easiest way to maintain integrity is by making verified accounts play by the same rules as everyone else.

Related: Essential Twitter Tips for Beginners

While Twitter is an online bubble and allowing free speech is essential, it’s also important to remember that social media can drastically influence people’s mindsets.

Allowing politicians and verified accounts to push the boundaries online might embolden their followers in real life. Doing so could cause a multitude of problems.

What Can Twitter Do to Create More of a Level Playing Field?

It would seem that Twitter has noticed there could be some flaws to its public interest policy. The platform has asked others how they think world leaders should be treated, which is a start.

Twitter has also reconsidered its approach to verifying accounts. In the past, one major criticism was that too many people received a blue checkmark. Going forward, the platform should be more careful with who it gives verification to.

While it’s not meant to be a seal of approval, many users interpret it as an endorsement or stamp of authority.

Having a Blue Tick Shouldn’t Be a Green Light for Breaking the Rules

It’s easy to dismiss tweets as words on a screen, but content posted online has real-life impacts. If verified accounts are allowed more leniency with Twitter’s rules, they could influence events that put other people’s lives in danger.

Twitter’s public interest policy is understandable. However, numerous past incidents show that verified accounts have been allowed to frequently promote division and hate for longer than they should have.

Treating all accounts equally is vital for maintaining Twitter’s integrity and something that all social media platforms should do.

photo showing the official twitter profile on twitter

What Does Having a Blue Tick on Twitter Actually Mean?

If you see an account with a blue tick on Twitter, it’s verified. Here’s what that means and the benefits of the status.

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