It may soon be a little easier for some people to get that coveted blue checkmark on Instagram.
The Facebook-owned service is beginning to to test a new verification process with an official request form, publicly accessible within the app for the first time.
For now, the new form is only available in Instagram’s iPhone app in Australia and a few other unspecified countries, but the company says it’ll be available to Android users in those countries over the next couple weeks.
Of all the major social platforms, verification is most sought after on Instagram. The company has historically verified relatively few accounts, and until now it’s never had a public-facing way for individuals to request the blue checkmark.
This has lead to a black market for Instagram verification, where middlemen who claim to have connections at the company charge as much as $15,000 to facilitate verification. These schemes don’t always work, though, and a number of users have been scammed.
Instagram’s tried to crack down on the practice over the years, but with limited success. Its verification process has been so opaque many people have been desperate to gain verification by any means necessary, which in turn created the opportunity for Instagram’s own employees to turn verification into a lucrative side hustle.
Now, though, the company is hoping to end the scams and shady under-the-table dealings. In Australia and the other countries where the new process is being tested, a “request verification” option will appear in Instagram’s main settings.
From there, users will be able to provide their account info and a copy of their ID in order to request verification.
Instagram says the new request form is still a test for now, and it’s not clear if there’s a timeline for it to roll out to more countries, though the app often tests new features in a few markets before making them available globally.
“This new feature will allow our community the opportunity to apply for verification themselves, and understand the process behind getting verified on Instagram. We believe opening up verification to the public will also work towards safeguarding our community,” Instagram’s strategic partner manager for the APAC region, Nicci Meek, told Australian publication nine.com.au.
Importantly, it doesn’t sound like the requirements for verification have changed. The in-app form notes the blue tick is still reserved for “the authentic presence of a notable public figure, celebrity, global brand or entity it represents.”
So requesting verification is just part of the process — the company will still evaluate whether a particular account meets the criteria. But at least there’s a clear process people can follow now, and one that doesn’t involve paying off shady middlemen.
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