Twitter just announced it will begin verifying primary-qualifying political candidates for 2020 congressional and gubernatorial races.
In a blog post titled “Helping identify 2020 US election candidates on Twitter,” Bridget Coyne, Twitter’s Senior Public Policy Manager, announced the return of Election Labels, which launched during the 2018 midterm election, and how Twitter will identify candidates to verify. For the former, they’re partnering with Ballotpedia.
Here’s more on Election Labels:
Election Labels provide information about political candidates, like the office they are running for, their state and district number, and contain a small ballot box icon. The Label will appear on the profile page of a candidate’s Twitter account and on every Tweet sent and Retweeted by the candidate’s account, even when embedded on sites off of Twitter. See below how the labels will look:
Candidates who can qualify for Election Labels include those running for “US House of Representatives, US Senate, or Governor in the 2020 US election who have qualified for the general election ballot.”
POLITICO noted this update was announced to help quell user fears following Twitter’s decision to abandon political ads back in October.
This is a departure from an August announcement in which the platform said it wouldn’t verify primary candidates until they’ve won their contests. The Hill noted:
Twitter says it will not verify any new congressional or gubernatorial candidates running in the 2020 cycle on its platform until they win their primaries.
The policy, which a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill on Tuesday is a continuation of the tech giant’s practices in the 2018 midterms, is intended to recognize the seriousness a candidate receives by being verified. However, it comes amid warnings that foreign operatives have in the past sought to impersonate political candidates.
“We appreciate that Twitter is an important tool for politicians to communicate to the electorate, and that verification is an important contextual signal for the public – which is why we’ve been very intentional and thoughtful about this policy,” the spokesperson told The Hill.
“While the public verification form is on hold, our teams around the world continue to verify select Twitter accounts, which include elected officials and government agencies. In the US, once candidates win their primary elections and/or qualify for the general election ballot for Congressional, Senate or Gubernatorial races we will verify their official Twitter accounts.”
Why is verification important for political candidates—especially Republican ones? It helps boost credibility on the platform and increase one’s visibility in search results. More importantly, the likelihood of impersonation decreases.
Will Twitter give preference to Democrat candidates over Republican ones, or “level the playing field” and award the coveted blue checkmark to every user who qualifies equally? We shall see.
We will continue to monitor these updates here at The Resurgent.