In an effort to improve the validity and accuracy of political information being shared on their platform, Twitter is rolling out new labels which will appear on the profiles and tweets of candidates in the upcoming U.S. midterm general election.
As you can see, accounts, and tweets from accounts, of candidates will be marked with a small icon of a government building. Tap or click on the label and you’ll be able to access additional information about that candidate, including the office they're running for, the state the office is located in and the district number (where applicable).
The new labels will appear on the Twitter accounts of candidates running for state Governor, or for the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives, during the 2018 U.S. midterm general election, and will start appearing after May 30th.
“The labels will appear on the Twitter Profile page of the candidate and alongside all Tweets sent or Retweeted by the account everywhere Tweets are visible – including Tweets embedded off of Twitter.”
The addition is similar to Facebook’s recently added tags for ‘Issues Ads’, though Facebook won’t specifically highlight that each profile behind each ad is an official account. Because they already do, through verification. Which Twitter also has.
In fact, the idea of specific candidate tagging somewhat underlines Twitter’s problems with their verification system – as the company itself noted late last year, even internally, there’s confusion as to what their verification tick actually means. The fact that they now need an additional verification badge to specify candidates would suggest that they haven’t resolved this as yet.
But that’s probably being a bit harsh – there is clear value in having identifiers for specific candidates, particularly given the fast-paced nature of Twitter’s real-time tweet stream. Now, you’ll be aware that the person commenting is not just a verified user, but also a political candidate, better enabling you to track their opinions, and even engage with them on specific topics. Having a clear and present marker for such users will help streamline the political engagement loop, and could prove significantly helpful in better informing users.
Then again, it could also lead to candidates engaging less on the platform – if they know that everything they tweet will be more heavily scrutinized, given that it’s being highlighted by this new badge, they might be less likely to share their thoughts for fear of misstep.
Either way, it’s an interesting addition for Twitter, and could point to a new opportunity for the platform’s verification system. What if, instead of a simple tick, you had an icon next to each verified user which identified, in some way, what they did? That could, possibly, make Twitter conversations more engaging.
I mean, it’s something to think about, anyway.