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by Josh Bond
Freelance Writer

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Twitter, Inc. has announced that it will soon identify “elitist” users within higher education with a red “Highed Elite” logo.

Similar to its current “Verified” function, the Highed Elite feature will allow users to quickly identify whether they are talking to someone who is a “big deal” in higher education.

“The process will be automatic,” explained Twitter’s director of technical operations Bob Zanst. “Once the system detects that a user has promoted his or her own abilities, put someone else down or acted cliquey more than three times in a given month, a user will be tagged ‘Highed Elite.’”

Reaction across the #sachat community– a popular student affairs Twitter group – has been mixed.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said second-year graduate student Samantha Wallace. “It makes it much easier for me to know who I should be sucking up to. Now I don’t have to waste my time trying to interact with regular professionals.”

Others are taking a more cautious approach.

James Barg, a new professional in academic technology support, expressed concern that undeserving new users would be able to be tagged too easily.

Bard explained, “Twitter will have to make sure that it isn’t too easy to obtain the elitist verification. I’ve been a part of the #ISTE community for nine months, and have used my one-year of professional experience to more than prove myself as a leader in my field. I’d hate for it to be diluted with inexperienced staff members.”

Zanst added that future expansion plans will allow the system to account for elitist relationships that move beyond the online community. “An ‘IRL meeting’ that does not include at least three non-Twitter users will immediately trigger the tag,” he said. “We’ll be monitoring future higher education conventions, as well. Submitting an educational session proposal on anything Twitter related will result in being tagged.”

Twitter has not announced how a user can remove the tag once it’s obtained.