Facebook is introducing a new feature, verified accounts and pages. This will allow those who suffer a lot of online impersonations to be able to prove that they really are the real deal. The feature has begun rolling out today and is intended to provide confirmation to users that they are dealing with the person that they think they are dealing with and not just somebody who has pulled a few pictures off the web and set them as the profile pics on a spoof account.
You will be able to identify a verified account as it will show a blue circle with a tick inside it next to the name of the person. The verified tick also shows when you search for a person. This may be where the true value of a verified account comes into play. If you search for celebrities you will often find spoof accounts and these can sometimes be very convincing, particularly if you are from another country.
After the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United and the announcement that David Moyes would take his place I noticed a spoof David Moyes account on Twitter. In spite of some obviously spoof comments about his plans for United the account was getting a constant stream of people congratulating him on his appointment, mainly from the Far East. Now while they may not have understood all the cultural references in the spoof Moyes’s tweets I am not going to pass judgement on them because their grasp of English is far better than my grasp of Cantonese or Indonesian! It does, however, show the value of a verified account in social media.
Verified accounts are not available to everybody. They seem to be mainly intended for celebrities and some journalists. I initially thought that it may be connected to the number of followers that a page or person has. This would appear not to be the case as Leo Laporte, tech journalist, with around 180 000 followers on Facebook is verified while Simon Cowell who has over 900 000 followers is not verified. The feature is still being rolled out and they might not have reached Simon Cowell yet.
Companies like Facebook rely on the honesty of their users. It helps them to provide “clean” data. The kind of data that advertisers love. If you want to run an ad on Facebook that targets fans of a particular celebrity then this will help to ensure that you are truly reaching your target audience and not people who hate that celebrity and are following a spoof account. Clean data will be key to Facebook’s future success and verified accounts and fan pages is one small step towards maintaining the quality of the data that they are eventually selling to advertisers.