In what many bloggers are calling “a step towards Twitter,” Facebook rolled out verified pages for public figures, celebrities and athletes yesterday. Just like Twitter, a small blue check mark is now placed next to the name of the true pages.
So who is verified? Facebook went through the pages yesterday and gave gold stars – blue checkmarks – to pages with the most likes that have high engagement and that are actually authentic profiles. Tim Tebow’s public page is verified, but the Tim Tebow Fan Club isn’t. Derek Jeter doesn’t have a public profile page like Tebow, so his official fan page with almost two million likes that promotes his foundation was verified instead. You don’t have to be a person who set up an RSS feed to be verified. Official pages run by organizations that represent a person or team can be crowned by Facebook.
If you’re not an A-list celebrity or fallen-from grace quarterback, chances are good that you’re not going to be verified anytime soon. If you feel like someone is impersonating your account, you can report the fake one but can’t ask or pay to be verified. For example, a few weeks ago, Amy’s Baking Company gained hundreds of thousands of followers when they had a complete social media meltdown unlike anything seen before. Despite their brief bout of infamy, they aren’t verified, so verification isn’t just a numbers game.
It’s actually surprising that Facebook has taken so long to create verified pages. Mark Zuckerberg has always been an advocate for keeping user’s actual first and last names on their profiles. Even when Facebook Safety was apologizing yesterday they promised to make sure users are displaying their real names. It would only make sense to verify Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez’s accounts to keep people from creating profiles with their names.
Lebron James now has verified accounts for both Twitter and Facebook, but it’s clear that both profiles are completely different. His Twitter account is personal, and he often tweets photos and whatever his thoughts are at the moment. While his Facebook page also has many pictures, most of the posts aren’t as off the cuff as his Tweets. There are a lot more posts on his Facebook page for his internship program and promotions than on his Twitter account. In the same way that Twitter has caught on as a source for breaking news, it has also become popular for following celebrities and athletes because users can follow all of their daily activities and inner thoughts – no matter how shallow.
Facebook’s algorithm only shows certain posts by select friends and pages, so it’s harder to connect with public figures online. Twitter users see everything in their news feed – for better or for worse. Verified accounts on Facebook will help preserve the identities of public figures, but adding check marks to names won’t change anything as far as increasing engagement with pages or drawing celebrities and athletes to post more “train of thought” updates that users love on Twitter.