On Twitter, any user can request to be verified. That isn't to say everyone will be approved, but the site has a portal open to all users who want to let 'people know that an account of public interest is authentic'.
Over on Instagram, though, those check marks can be harder to come by. The social media's application isn't publicly available, and is offered only to big names that those who work at Instagram deem worthy.
'Currently, only Instagram accounts that have a high likelihood of being impersonated have verified badges,' the site's Help Center explains.
If Instagram's verification team singles someone out, that person must submit the application with some documentation of his or her identity, like a passport.
According to Mashable, those who are selected must also list their contact at Instagram or Facebook (its parent company), so none of the employees there abuse their verification privileges. Applicants may also use press clippings to verify their importance and influence.
But what about people who aren't well enough known to grab the attention of Instagram's employees? If they want to become verified, there's a back alley they can take — a very expensive back alley.
Reportedly, some Instagram employees take bribes. Coordinating with friends outside the company — a middleman who also takes a cut — they will occasionally grant verified status to someone who is willing to pay for it.
One black market seller named James, explained it like this: He has a contact at Instagram who will charge $1,200 to verify someone. If James connects someone with him, he'll charge that someone an additional fee. The total cost can be $1,500 to $7,000.