YouTube creators may lose verified badges as company makes verification program even stricter

YouTube is rolling out changes to its verification program for creators, making it tougher for growing channels to earn a checkmark beside their name and removing verification badges from people who don’t meet the heightened criteria.

YouTube’s current system allows anyone with more than 100,000 subscribers to be verified. Now, YouTube is emphasizing verifying prominent channels that have a “clear need for proof of authenticity,” according to the company. This includes traditional YouTubers, musicians, comedians, and artists, among others.

Verification is an extremely important feature for creators. It affects which creators get top recommendations when people search for something on YouTube. Channels that no longer meet the criteria and may have their badge removed will be notified today, YouTube confirmed to The Verge. Creators will have the option to appeal the decision before the change takes place in late October.

Being verified also represents status for creators. Having the checkmark beside their channel name is a sign of being one of the most prominent members of the community. Losing that checkmark is going to leave creators feeling upset — especially at a time when many people have already voiced their concerns with YouTube’s treatment of their community.

The criteria for verification due to prominence essentially looks at whether a creator or channel is recognizable enough both in and outside of YouTube that the company needs to authenticate them.

The company’s authenticity rules are pretty simple: a channel has to be owned and operated by the person or company it claims to be in order to get a checkmark or other verification mark. For example, Beyoncé’s official channel would have an artist profile icon and a musical note beside her name to show people that the page belongs to the real Beyoncé before, but that’s changing to just a tonal grey background.

These new verification rules seem like another move from YouTube to more effectively moderate search results and recommendations, which is an area where the company has faced widespread criticism. Company executives have said they want to work on ensuring that the algorithm recommends authentic and authoritative videos from well-known and respected creators when it comes to several topics. Changing the way they approach who on YouTube is or isn’t verified feels like an additional step to instituting those beliefs.

Under the new policy, YouTube’s team will handle verification on their end, according to a press release. Channels that meet the new requirements don’t have to apply for verification as it will automatically be handed out.

Following the announcement, a number of YouTube creators began complaining, primarily on Twitter, that YouTube was already stripping them of their badges. The company has since released a statement denying the rumors and clarifying its position on the new verification program.

The tweet also specified that checkmarks never appeared on the mobile app, which is where many screenshots circulating around Twitter were originating. YouTube will add the feature soon. “We’re making this change to help everyone determine whether a channel is the official YouTube presence of the creator they’re looking for,” an additional tweet reads. “Please know that badge or no badge, you’re an important part of YouTube.”

Update September 19th, 6:10PM ET: Added new statement from YouTube.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that musicians would get a new icon to represent their verification. Instead, they are losing an icon. It will be replaced with the same grey background that other verified YouTube creators will have. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.

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