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Twitter Introduces Bonus Features For Verified Users

Life Gets Easier For Celebrities

For those power-users of Twitter, those who long to be real big players on the site, the blue badge of verification is a much sought-after token. Originally instituted to identify the real accounts of celebrities and public figures from fake or parody accounts, it now acts like something of a velvet rope on the micro-blogging site. Figures like Rob Delaney, a comedian who earned legions of fans through his scatological 140 character humour, is a verified figure despite having a relatively minor (although growing) presence offline.

Verified users already get a few special features from Twitter, including the ability to toggle their notifications feed to show only other verified accounts. As of last week, they just gained two more privileges: an alert when another verified user follows them, and the option to view only verified followers in their stream (the latter feature only on iOS for now).

The updates are clearly intended to make the site more attractive to celebrity users, and there are two aspects behind this intent.

The first can be seen as a reply to Facebook’s recent Mentions feature, an ancillary app which allows public figures with verified Facebook pages to do celebrity things like host Q&As with fans and communicate better with other famous people. Twitter’s move towards becoming more of a social platform, and in doing so forming a mounting challenge to Facebook, has been noted already, and this new development suggests that they are serious about stepping up to the Zuckerberg juggernaut.

Secondly Twitter is starting to get serious again about attracting new users. Although they are performing well financially all is dependent on maintaining an influx of people; a stagnating user base is the worst possible scenario for a company which has yet to reach profitability. There’s a wealth of examples showing that us normals will follow celebrities like a pack of starving dogs after a butcher’s van; Instagram owes a great deal of its popularity to early celebrity adoption, for instance. By making their platform a more attractive option for celebrities as not only a promotional soapbox but as a genuine social site, Twitter is hoping that they will attract a core of well-known users around whom the great unwashed will congregate.

While it’s very nice for these Twitter VIPs to have these bells and whistles at their disposal, it does raise questions about how far sites should go in catering to celebrities. The world of Web 2.0 is a classless one, where anyone’s voice is as loud as the next person’s. That was part of the appeal of Twitter in the first place – ‘you mean my tweet will appear right next to Stephen Fry’s!?’ With this gradual raising of the walls between obviously preferred members and the rest of us, Twitter may be setting a dangerous precedent. People like to be on the same networks as celebrities, sure. But if all you’re doing is watching celebrities talk to each other things might get pretty dull pretty quickly.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Twitter Introduces Bonus Features For Verified Users Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, August 21, 2014 Rating: 5
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