Liam O'Dell

Twitter responds to the #VerifyDisabledTwitter campaign

In what feels like a very frustrating case of déjà vu, I am again submitting a request to Twitter to have my account verified. Almost a month after the first attempt, nearly 100 fellow disabled activists have told me they’ve had their requests rejected too. After some help from my good friend Poppy Field, the #VerifyDisabledTwitter campaign was launched.

Until now, Twitter had not responded to the hashtag. Their reply, which landed in my inbox on Friday, was from their press office, after I drew their attention to the issue.

“We’re committed to ensuring our Verification process is inclusive, fair, and equitable and we strive to be consistent in how we’re assessing Verification applications. 

“We will review all applications equally based on our policy criteria. We hear your feedback that the process seems unfair and that we need to provide more clarity on why applications may get rejected,” a Twitter spokesperson told me.

On the topic of clarity, they go on to add that they’ve introduced “a few new ways” to provide that, and “be more transparent” about the decisions they take regarding verification.

“Measurement is an important part of understanding where we are in making sure the process is equitable. So we’ve introduced a voluntary survey at the end of the application that will help us better understand who is applying for Verification, and how we can continue to improve,” the spokesperson said.

The survey itself was rolled out late last week, I am told, but they can’t share any data at the moment. They’ll also be adding extra guidelines within the application around what information they accept for each category.

The Twitter spokesperson also said that they introduced further details to rejection emails “so they can fix it when they reapply after 30 days”, and we’re seeing some of those already from supporters of #VerifyDisabledTwitter.

The one I’ve seen the most reads: “This account will not be verified at this time because the evidence provided did not meet our criteria for notability. As a result, we could not reliably verify that the account associated with the request is a notable person, organisation, or brand.”

I’ve already written before about notability in respect of the guidelines, and how it fails to recognise an individual’s prominence outside of Twitter because it is also dependant on what happens on the platform. One thing I failed to mention, which was suggested by fellow disabled activist Charli Clement, is that notability within a specific marginalised community is just as important as notability within wider society. Our community leaders deserved to be recognised, especially when they’re the ones who often appear in the media, in campaigns etc. to draw attention to the issues a particular community faces.

Disabled people are notable, disabled people are authoritative individuals on their own lived experience, and these insights must be verified.

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