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By Ben Rappaport

A "verified" Twitter account has been a coveted social media status symbol reserved for the likes of well-known names and institutions, from the White House to the NFL to Kim Kardashian.

But now, applying to get that little blue check mark is becoming simpler after the tech company said Tuesday it created an online application process for anyone to request verified status.

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"We want to make it even easier for people to find creators and influencers on Twitter so it makes sense for us to let people apply for verification," Tina Bhatnagar, Twitter's vice president of user services, said in a statement. "We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience."

The more upfront process, however, doesn't mean the criteria to getting a verified account has changed — accounts will still be scrutinized and deemed important enough to be considered of "public interest."

Verified accounts are typically requested by celebrities and organizations in entertainment, fashion, politics, sports, media, business and other key interest areas.

A blue check mark, Twitter says, allows people to know an account — particularly that of a celebrity — is not fake.

Twitter was the first online platform to introduce account verification in 2009, and it now has about 187,000 verified ones.

Competitors such as Facebook and Instagram have begun to follow Twitter's lead and show verified accounts with a similar icon.

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One of the first Twitter accounts given verified status was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (@CDCgov) to help citizens find an accurate and valid source for public health information.

Other accounts verified early on were NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, Oprah Winfrey, Milwaukee police and Kardashian, who now has about 46.8 million followers.