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YouTube revises changes to verification badges

YouTube has backtracked (at least a bit) on their plans to change the verification badge system in response to considerable concern and confusion from creators.
Today, after an apology from CEO Susan Wojcicki YouTube announced a change in plans:
  • currently verified channels (like mine) will keep their verification badge
  • channels with 100,000 subscribers can apply for verification via an improved review process
  • replacement of the checkmark badge won't happen until next year
  • some channels that are "well-known outside of YouTube" may be "proactively verified" even if they have fewer than 100,000 subscribers
Yesterday YouTube announced substantial changes in the eligibility requirements for verification, which would be limited to “prominent channels that have a clear need for proof of authenticity”. There would no longer be a verified checkmark badge, but instead verified channels would have their channel name highlighted.

Creators that received a notice that they were no longer eligible to be verified could submit an appeal with links to their other social media profiles and news articles about them.

And under the new system creators would not have the opportunity to apply for verification. Instead YouTube would automatically identify and verify eligible channels. The changes were to go into effect next month.

What's Happening With Verification Now

Today, after an apology from CEO Susan Wojcicki YouTube announced a change in plans:

First off, channels that already have a verification badge right now can keep it, and won’t need to appeal.

And channels that have at least 100,000 subscribers will be eligible apply for verification, starting at the end of October.

YouTube will have a new, improved application review process that requires channels to be Authentic and Complete. What that means:
  • Your channel needs to officially represent the creator, brand or “entity” it’s claiming to be. YouTube may require you to submit documentation to verify the channel identity.
  • Your channel must be public and active, and have a channel icon, description and content.
YouTube also says they may "proactively verify channels with fewer than 100,000 subscribers that are well-known outside of YouTube."

The change from a checkmark badge to highlighted channel name won’t be implemented until next year.

Update: there is more information about this change in this October 2020 video from Creator Insider.

Why did YouTube have to backtrack?

It’s clear that YouTube completely underestimated the importance many creators attach to their verification badge. 

For many creators loss of the badge made it feel like YouTube was saying their channel was not really authentic.

And one of the reasons YouTube cites for the change is that nearly one-third of users believe the badge is an endorsement of content, rather than indicator of identity. Despite YouTube's assurances, it likely seemed to some creators that this change actually was a removal of YouTube's endorsement.

As a headline in the New York Times put it, it felt like a demotion.

Add to that the vague eligibility requirements, with some well-known channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers having to appeal; removal of the option to apply for verification; and short time frame for the change, and it’s not a surprise many channel owners were upset.

Todays update seems like a decent compromise, with currently verified channels keeping their badge, and a more rigorous verification process going forward.

And to YouTube's credit, they very rapidly made changes when it became clear how upset the original change made users.