- Major social media platforms diverge on verification methods
- Impersonation and cybersecurity issues remain a challenge for brands
- Influencers pursue verification to boost their earnings
Social media platforms are taking verification seriously at a time when impersonation and cybersecurity issues are on the rise. Whereas verification requirements for many social media channels are quite similar, the methods they deploy are quite different. As the need to get verified on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Youtube and various channels grow, so does agency experience in handling related matters related to this relatively new phenomenon.
Sitetrail, one of the agencies responsible for assisting the largest number of influencers to achieve Instagram Verification worldwide, says UK and US influencers are overly well represented compared to influencers in non-English speaking countries. "We do see cases where people with fewer followers are well represented in English media and they get verified, in contrast to their counterparts in places like Brazil, Russia and Japan, where influencers have higher follower numbers but less visibility in English media. For this reason, we often present translated cases to English media owners to facilitate inclusivity of influencers and events around the world", said the CEO of Sitetrail, Adriaan Brits.
How To Get Verified on Instagram:
Everyone wants verification: brands, businesses, sports personalities, celebrities, singers, politicians, government agencies and apparently, in the UK, it is said that even adult stars are pursuing this heavily to boost their incomes disproportionately. Instagram operates a very transparent policy on verification. It states that in order to receive the blue tick, a user has to be a public figure, celebrity or brand. The Instagram eligibility requirements are clearly communicated and are achievable against realistic benchmarks.
According to Brits: "We see relative consistency among platforms in the requirements of notability, authenticity, uniqueness and completeness. It would seem that the political orientation of a platform's management and board might be the only area where we see rules applied differently. This does not seem to affect entertainment, because we see celebrities from the UK, Israel, Spain and China all verified in the same way, but politicians and even presidents of some EU countries, are not verified when they hold contrarian views. We're not contesting this - it is just a factual analysis we can share broadly after also consulting governments on the issue".
Notability Is The One Factor That Can Be Altered:
When considering the main requirements such as a profile being sufficiently unique and authentic not to resemble an impersonation as well as complete in the sense that it is clearly has all the key aspects of the profile filled in, the one variable that can change almost overnight, is notability. Brits says that "If various media discovered the fact that a brand excels at being a leader in sustainability and their editorial team breaks the news and the brand attracts a multitude of followers - the notability factor may have changed in a matter of hours. If someone then adds credible news like this on Wikipedia, or there is a matching Crunchbase business profile, or Imdb actor profile - well, these things all attest to notability".
Press releases will not help:
You cannot "buy" an Instagram verification badge from Instagram or any agency. It is obvious most celebrities have a PR manager who manages their media relations in a sensible way.
That means that they communicate facts to news channels which concerns unpaid content, or may even reach out to news editors to ensure factual and accurate representation.
However, scammers who sell verified accounts are unable to guarantee against the de-verification of an account after selling it - and this is precisely what account verification seeks to avoid: fake or inauthentic users. Among those who clearly seek to game the system, scammers also paddle fake news and paid press releases using newswires indiscriminately to lure in unsuspecting influencers. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have the ability to detect that these news appearances are not authentic, have not been selected by editors because it is real news, and have been paid for through commercial press release platforms.
The disparity in verification methods:
According to Sitetrail, it has become common for influencers to automatically see their TikTok verification happen the moment they succeed with either Twitter or Instagram. This is because the criteria for most platforms are similar. However the methods of verification are different. In the case of Instagram, one needs to apply in person via the mobile app. With TikTok, on the other hand, notability in the media is supposed to be detected automatically via an algorithm. Currently, is no global consensus on this and each platform is still a law unto themselves when it comes to verification: the platforms decide their own criteria and method for verification.
The downside of not being verified:
Getting an Instagram account verified quickly is reassuring because every HNWI, influencer and brand understands it is about safety. Some are quite happy because it will boost their revenue. In most cases, verification relies on either government identification where individuals are concerned, or corporate documentation in the case of brands. In the absence of verification it is easier for cybersecurity criminals to access an account and carry out extortion and/or cyber extortion, misrepresentation and other actions for economic benefit or to drive a rogue information agenda. It is therefore also understandable that those who may have been declined following a verification request, will feel somewhat frustrated until the matter is rectified.
Social media platforms benefit from having verified influencers for numerous reasons: they can quickly resolve the matter in cases of a security breach and have reliable accounts that can produce content worthy of promotion, which in turn engages users and drives revenue. Users benefit from brand differentiation, increased follower levels and better content promotion, along with more peace of mind. Yet scammers and extortioners may benefit from gaming the system as they attempt to sell "guaranteed verification" schemes, hacked accounts and so forth. The bar has to be set high on notability requirements and a bit of government involvement to set regulations in this area can only benefit society.