The Blog

How to Get Verified on Twitter and Be Happy, Forever

Two weeks ago, I was Verified on Twitter. While outwardly meaningless, gaining that simple Blue Tick has since taken me on a journey of self-discovery which I never expected, and I hope will never end.

Until a fortnight ago, I didn't even know who I was.

Not because of some ongoing personality crisis, identity theft or memory loss. Though it's possible they were contributing factors.

It was because, on the social network Twitter, there was more than one of me.

There was the distinguished and popular Mike Rundle, an app designer from North Carolina who has 10 times as many followers as I do. Or this Michael Rundle, a self-described "gentleman and a scholar" who stood dignified in his silence having not tweeted for more than a year. Mike Rundle from Illinois had a claim to my identity too, as did this Michael Rundle (though I actually think that's an account I set up myself, and forgot about).

To my good fortune I was not under siege by an active impostor - either real or implausibly robotic - as the writer Jon Ronson speaks about in this excellent speech. Neither was I aware of anyone I knew personally following one of the other accounts by accident.

I must also admit that on some level I still suspected that the account I actively monitor and maintain was the real me. (The amount of searingly insightful video games trivia the account transmitted into the digital ether seemed about right. And while the profile picture - a sort of heavily cropped "war reporter" portrait which I knew for a fact was taken on a beach in Spain - seemed a bit pompous, I wouldn't put that past myself either.)

Even so, amid that impressive collection of alternative personalities, how was I to know for sure? There was not, as far as I could see, any real way for myself, to convince myself, that I was myself.

Then everything changed. Reader, I was verified.

In the world of Twitter, being 'Verified' is the closest thing there is to gaining a knighthood. The program is theoretically restricted to "highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas", but there is no obvious way to apply to join their ranks. Search Google and you'll find thousands of articles in which experts give advice on how to "get verified", but most of them leave readers unsatisfied with tips no more advanced than to read this page and wait.

But now suddenly, without even trying, I crossed the blue velvet rope.

One day, I just opened my account and saw it: a blue tick. A shining, glorious, unattainable blue tick. Where once my profile picture stood alone and stark, now it was joined in union with that elusive cyan mark which separates, and signifies. I was inside the door. I was "highly sought after". I was Verifiably Me.

Even now, I'm not sure how it happened. Or rather, I'm not sure why Twitter HQ suddenly decided to verify all of HuffPostUK's staffers en masse, which is what actually took place.

What I do know is that my life has totally changed. Nothing has been the same since that day, and I am sure, beyond all doubt, that nothing will ever be the same again.

In strictly legal terms gaining the Tick of Honour didn't conform on me any specific new roles, responsibilities or financial benefits. But it did give me a renewed sense of civic duty, and thought leadership, which I take extremely seriously. It implied that I should now lead Public Shamings with new vigour, search out interesting historical photographs and post TL;DR links with even more probing readings of Reddit.

Being Verified has also given me access to at least one new feature on Twitter - the 'Verified' interactions stream. For now my Interactions feed by default shows only interactions with other verified users. It's like a VIP room, where dramatically important people like me hob-nob with other Verifieds, and casually try to pretend there was never a day when we schlubbed around the Unverified districts of Twitter, scavenging for retweets or mentions from our Verified betters.

I am aware of course, that some will criticise the pride I take in my new Blue Tick. Perhaps they will argue that the verified program is a nothing but a meaningless, clunky quirk; an administrative feature obsessed over by nobody except the mindless, fame-hunting users of a site that already validates the vain and self-obsessed beyond all reason.

They are, of course, totally wrong. I have accepted my Tick with tremendous humility and good grace, even if I say so myself.

Ah, yes: myself. For that's what it all comes back to. Above all else, it is my sense of self that has undergone a process of Verification.

For now I am verified, I now know not only who I am, but what I am. And what I stand for.

I am @michaelrundle. I am Verified. Follow me, and tremble in the light of my sky-blue glory.