Everyone knows that Twitter is horrible at fighting harassment, but The Daily Beast recently explained why, quoting anonymous former employees who blame understaffed support teams, inadequate training, and a catch-all response flowchart that doesn’t allow for common sense or individual judgement. They also revealed that reports from verified users get moved to a second, shorter work queue.
Unless you can call in a favour from a friend at Twitter, or go viral by shaming part-time CEO Jack Dorsey, verification is your best chance to get your report noticed. As of last year, anyone can apply for Twitter verification – you don’t even have to be a famously punched white supremacist. Twitter’s listed requirements include that you verify your phone number and email address, fill out your profile including your birthday, and enable two-factor login security. (You might also want to switch back from your Halloween name to your real name.) Then fill out this form. Now, instead of waiting for Twitter to ban the person who sent you death threats, you can wait for them to verify you!
The third-party social media tool Buffer offers some tips for getting verified: Keep your account active, and tweak your profile to look important and connected. In your bio, namedrop other verified accounts that you’re affiliated with. List your areas of expertise. Add specific details about yourself, both to show that you’re real, and to demonstrate what a big deal you are. It isn’t pretty, but it’s a way to signal to some poor Twitter employee that if they ignore your request, it might become a scandal. (Don’t actually try to imply that. Nothing screams “I am no one” like screaming “Do you know who I am?”)
Verification comes with other perks, such as moving to the top of reply threads and receiving some Twitter features early. But ironically, by singling you out as one of the “elite”, a verification badge can make you a more attractive target for harassers.
And it doesn’t necessarily mean Twitter support will take you seriously. When a Twitter harasser sent rape threats to engineer Kelly Ellis, she couldn’t get Twitter to ban or even suspend the account – even though she was verified, and even though she worked for Medium, a company founded by the creator of Twitter. Twitter didn’t ban the harasser until Ellis screencapped dozens of their harassing messages and got covered by BuzzFeed.
So verification isn’t a foolproof method for fighting harassment. But in the hellscape of Twitter, it’s the best option you have.
Want Nazis Out of Your Twitter Feed? It Helps to Be a VIP. [The Daily Beast]