A Very Silly Workaround to Verify the @scalzi Account on Twitter is Actually Me, John Scalzi
Because the blue check mark on Twitter is now a symbol of subscription status, rather than being a symbol that Twitter has verified that an account is held by the person it purports to represent, I offer the following, with apologies for the occasional use of the third person, and with informational bits up front and editorial in the back:
Hello! This is just to note, from author John Scalzi’s personal site (note the scalzi.com URL), which has been around since 1998, and which has verifiably been under his control that entire time, that “@scalzi” is the correct and official Twitter account for John Scalzi. Please note that “scalzi” here is spelled correctly and with no substitutions (for example, no capital “i” where the “L” is in the word), nor are there any additional characters in the name or after it, including underscores or numbers.
Please also note that Twitter allows users to easily change the “name” of their account, but not so easily the account handle (the part with the “@” in it), and never to an existing account handle, so always check the account handle to see if my or any other account is being spoofed. See the illustration below:
Note also that the icon/avatar of an account (the image that accompanies the name and account handle) can be changed at will and may be used to intentionally confuse/spoof/troll people.
Again, always check the Twitter handle to confirm the identity of the account. In my case, “@scalzi” is the correct and official John Scalzi account.
That should do it.
As of this writing (November 6, 2022) the “@scalzi” account has a blue check mark on it, but given the decision by the current Twitter management to make the blue check mark a symbol that one has subscribed to Twitter Blue, rather than a symbol that the account is verifiably held by the person it purports to be, that blue check mark may disappear off my Twitter account at any time, thus the need to have outside verification that the “@scalzi” account is the official account of John Scalzi, author.
(As a matter of disclosure, I will note that prior to this whole set of nonsense, I was a subscriber to the “Twitter Blue” service from the time it had become available, because I wanted access to some of its capabilities, including the “undo” and “edit” functions. I may or may not continue to be a subscriber to it, depending on its value proposition to me.)
As of this writing, it is my understanding that the blue check mark symbol will be available to Twitter Blue subscribers without verification that the person is who they purport to be (aside from the extremely basic and unreliable method of making sure the payment for the subscription goes through). Therefore, there are two things to remember, with regard to Twitter, at this point:
1. There no longer exists any verifiable method from Twitter itself to confirm an account holder is who they purport to be.
2. The blue check mark symbol should no longer be considered trustworthy in terms of identity, even on accounts which displayed it previous to its association with the Twitter Blue subscription.
Both of these are incredibly important. The first of these means (counter to the marketing of Twitter Blue’s takeover of the blue check mark) that Twitter is now extremely unreliable as a source of news and information, more than it already was. Where the blue check mark was a first-line prophylactic against disinformation (at the very least, you knew the account was who it said it was), it now falls entirely to the user to confirm the source as well as the information. Many Twitter users won’t, and those who traffic in disinformation know that. Twitter used to know that, too.
The second of these means that even if currently verified users keep their checkmarks (as legacy holdovers or because they subscribe to Twitter Blue), the symbol has become useless for verification purposes because the blue check’s meaning has been changed. Twitter users moving forward have no way of knowing from Twitter itself when the blue check mark was granted to the user, and thus, whether it signifies “verified user” or “subscriber.” When in doubt (which for most people will be always), one should assume the blue check now means “subscriber.” If the rumor that current verified Twitter users will have a grace period to subscribe to Twitter Blue or else lose the checkmark is true, then in a few months the blue check mark will only mean “subscriber” anyway, with no association to verification.
Either way, and to repeat: The blue check mark on Twitter no longer means what it did. Its meaning has changed from “This account is verifiably this person” to “I pay money for Twitter.” The current management of Twitter wants potential subscribers, and current verified users, to believe the blue check mark confers status in itself, rather than for what it previously represented. Anyone who rushes to subscribe to Twitter in order to receive the status benefit of the blue check mark, however, should be prepared for value of the mark to decrease dramatically as the new meaning of the mark comes to the fore.
(Two side notes here: First, anyone planning to subscribe to Twitter Blue for certain other features, such as priority placement in replies and searches, should be aware the priority placement will mean nothing if you’re muted or blocked, so thinking that $8/month will give you license to be a jerk will just mean you’re wasting $8; Second, if “Twitter” continues calling its subscriber check mark “verification,” and trying to position it as such, someone should probably file a lawsuit alleging deceptive trade practices.)
I am not planning to leave Twitter in the near future — thus, the need for this note — and I may choose to continue to subscribe to Twitter Blue, which means I may continue to have a blue check mark on my account. The blue check means only that one is a subscriber, and no other meaning should be attached to it, either for my account or any other. It certainly doesn’t mean “verification” anymore. Verification on Twitter no longer exists. You take your chances on who and what you find there. Unless they just happen to be able to, say, point to their own Web site of a quarter-century’s standing, or can point to verified standing on other social media (I’m verified on Facebook, as an example).
But this is a very silly workaround that not everyone has, and it’s ridiculous that the current Twitter management has now made something like this the best way to verify that an account on their service represents who it purports to. Twitter should know better. Perhaps it does, but it just doesn’t care. And that is something to be aware of, too.