Does Being Verified Make You More Credible? Account Verification’s Effect on Tweet Credibility
Many popular social networking and microblogging sites support verified accounts—user accounts that are deemed of public interest and whose owners have been authenticated by the site. Importantly, the content of messages contributed by verified account owners is not verified. Such messages may be factually correct, or not. This paper investigates whether users confuse authenticity with credibility by posing the question: Are users more likely to believe content from verified accounts than from non-verified accounts? We conduct two online studies, a year apart, with 748 and 2041 participants respectively, to assess how the presence or absence of verified account indicators influences users’ perceptions of tweets. Surprisingly, across both studies, we find that—in the context of unfamiliar accounts—most users can effectively distinguish between authenticity and credibility. The presence or absence of an authenticity indicator has no significant effect on willingness to share a tweet or take action based on its contents.