William Shatner found himself in trouble with the internet over the weekend when he questioned the process of Twitter verification.
It started when Engadget's social media manager John Colucci tweeted in celebration about the brand account passing a million followers. Colucci, who is verified but no Shatner, tweeted that his next goal was to pass Shatner's number of followers. Engadget editor in chief Michael Gorman tweeted to Shatner that Colucci is verified because he's "excellent at his job." Shatner then questioned whether doing a good job is a proper criteria for verification.
Earlier, I penned a letter to Shatner explaining why social media managers such as myself deserve verification and to address his request to Twitter that his account be unverified.
I then got some clarity from Shatner himself, who responded to my tweets. He said he's confused by some of the people he sees with the blue checkmark, especially since he knows people who deserve one who can't get one. But he stressed that he's an advocate of deserving people being verified and not a fan of the process as it currently stands.
Shatner pointed me to an interview he did with Mashable's Lance Ulanoff titled "William Shatner: My Problem With Twitter's Verified Accounts." In it, he discusses his overall concern about the process of verification and addresses what happened this weekend.
He has some excellent and valid points, and I agree with his concerns. But the point of the letter is not to dismiss the entire verification process, because there's more to it than meets the eye. Here's what I wrote:
You have boldly gone where no man has gone before. You are seeking to have your Twitter account unverified.
Kirk out? Illogical, and here's why.
While some say you continue to Klingon to your previous fame, I see you as an icon -- and I think you deserve to be verified. But I don't agree with your statements about who and who doesn't.
You said in your recent Twitter rant that verification lost its value because anyone can get it. As a social media manager I can tell you that's absolutely not the case, and the reason for verification is not popularity but to ensure people aren't spoofed by other people. Your voice is pretty easy to impersonate -- warp speed, Mr. Sulu -- so you should be thanking Twitter for watching out for you and the rest of the Federation.
You and I have had conversations on Twitter -- two, actually -- and to this day that remains one of my best Twitter memories. I still talk about it with my friends and followers. It is only because you are verified that I am assured of it actually being you and not some geek in a corner at a sci-fi convention. My verification protects me, just as the verification of the other people you singled out protects them. And again, that little blue check mark protects you. It's no less special than it ever was, and I hope you'll see things differently now that you've read this.
In summary, sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
I have been, and always shall be, your friend. So how about following me back, huh?
Live long and prosper, Bill.
Social Media Editor, Chicago Tribune