Back in the day, it was considered clever to say that on the internet no one knows you're a dog. Sadly, it's still true that just about anyone can impersonate just about anyone else and get by with it. This has enabled thousands of successful scams, crimes, and outright tragedies.
There's still no universal solution, but Twitter is now offering to verify your identity so that everyone will know you're who you say you are. It has always done this for certain celebrities and public figures, placing a blue check mark next to their name, but it is now opening it up to others.
Details are available on Twitter's site. Among other things, you'll need to provide your birth date, phone number, a headshot, and a scan of your driver's license or other photo ID.
Note that Twitter isn't promising to verify everyone who applies. You'll need to have a good reason, and you may need to provide quite a bit more information than the scant details mentioned above. But aside from celebrities, it's easy to see why financial advisors, journalists, government officials, and healthcare providers -- among others -- might want to add a layer of credibility to their tweets.
For now at least, having that little blue check mark next to your name is a little like having a vanity license plate or phone number. With more than 310 million Twitter users, only 187,000 or so are verified.