Something to ponder.
I stumbled across an interesting post yesterday about Twitter verification badges. Ya know, the little blue checkmark that you see next to the names of all the “important people” on Twitter. Christopher Zara, who writes for the International Business Times says:
Twitter verification today is less about verification and more about status.
Well, is he right? The entire reason behind Twitter verification resulted from the 2009 incident where someone created an account impersonating the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, which Zara mentions. In Dan Gillmor’s book We The Media, he discusses the possibility of a digital signature that would verify real people and identify the trolls (those associated with unethical internet discourse through impersonation, provoking unwanted arguments, posting false information, et cetera). That was in 2004, so he certainly predicted an inevitable course of events. Gillmor cited website commenters who go by false names or anonymously as trolls. At one point “George” responded to Gillmor’s request to reveal himself by saying:
“You should judge my credibility by how my statements correspond with the facts, logic, and the law—not by who I am.”
And I suppose this makes sense, but under what reason does he have to remain anonymous? What is at stake for him? Why does he wish to remain, in essence, unverified?
Verification is classism. It separates the trolls from the real people. It ensures credibility. However, Zara brings up a valid point by reminding us that the vast majority of Twitter users are unverified. So does that make us all trolls?