Facebook introduces Verified Accounts
Some four years ago, Twitter began to offer “Verified Accounts” to high profile users to reassure others that they are the genuine article, and to limit the number of fake celebrity accounts that were proliferating. Although these have not been without their problems, such as when an impersonator of Rupert Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng managed to get their spoof account verified by Twitter, they are generally an effective way to prevent Twitter users from being misled, and to protect celebrities from being misrepresented. The “blue tick” verification offers people in the public eye the opportunity to prove the veracity of their account, while preventing tricksters from being able to convince the masses that they are the real thing.
Facebook has now followed suit, with a similar “blue tick” system to verify that people who say they are famous actually are. Mark Zuckerberg, Madonna and the Guardian newspaper are among those accounts which are now proven to be verified and authentic and which now bear the emblem. They explained that the Pages in question would be those of a, "small group of prominent public figures (celebrities, journalists, government officials, popular brands and businesses) with large audiences".
The Facebook blue tick is not displayed over the cover photo, and this is possibly in anticipation of a potential problem that Twitter has encountered in the past, in which impersonators would add a screengrabbed copy of the tick to their own background image to make it look like an account is verified when it is not. Therefore when users hover their mouse over the blue tick on Facebook, the words “Verified Profile” appear. This should legitimise those who are genuine as this is impossible to replicate fraudulently.
When searching for well-known personalities on the site, the blue tick will also appear next to their name in the search results.
It is unclear at this stage who will be offered the opportunity to verify their Facebook Page or profile. Currently it seems to be limited to a certain breed of almost super celebrity, such as Justin Bieber and David Beckham, although this could simply be the start of a wider system of verification. Over time, smaller brands and less well known public personalities may start to receive the validation that this symbol offers, and many will undoubtedly be keen to be endorsed in this way.
The site does seem, so far, to have celebrities and public figures who are conspicuous by their absence. The Pages of Prime Minister David Cameron, international music producer Simon Cowell, film actress Susan Sarandon and supermodel Naomi Campbell are amongst those not so far authenticated as genuine.
There is no way, as yet, to approach Facebook and ask for a validated account although, ironically, fake Pages are already popping up offering people the chance to do just this. In reality, Facebook are making approaches to individuals and brands rather than opening the system up for people to nominate themselves. The site does, however, offer all users the ability to report fake accounts whenever they find them