Eddie Zhao / Daily Nexus

The social media industry is one the world prides itself on with great authority and admiration. Although social media allows for people to keep up with current events and the latest news regarding friends and family, it also accounts for one’s status and popularity. This ideology is applicable to not only people but also businesses, cultures and even collegiate institutions like the University of California, Santa Barbara itself. 

Have you ever seen UCSB’s Instagram account and noticed the fact that it is an unverified account? As one of society’s most active and influential social media platforms, Instagram should accredit UCSB with a verified status.

There is an undeniable level of authenticity and respect for accounts with a blue checkmark. These accounts usually have a significant number of followers and tend to represent public figures and nationally recognized brands/businesses. As a social media user myself, I understand the significance and esteemed reputation these verified accounts maintain. I found this additional level of verification relevant when I was researching the colleges I was considering attending. 

At the end of my senior year in high school, I vividly recall scrolling through Instagram and checking out various colleges’ accounts. One of the first things I noticed was the fact that UCSB was unverified. I thought that was odd, as I still do, or else I obviously wouldn’t be writing this article today. Back then, I was quick to make judgments and settle with certain opinions about UCSB as an institution, solely due to the fact that it was unverified. Social media practices have groomed me to believe that verified accounts, or even accounts with a huge following, are more dignified with greater importance and an honorable reputation. Fortunately, I now recognize that this philosophy is not always the case, but the point remains that social media is incredibly powerful in the way that it can influence humans’ decisions or feelings. 

An account’s verification status on Instagram can skew people’s perceptions of its credibility or authenticity. At the time of publishing, UC Los Angeles, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego are the only UC school accounts verified on Instagram, out of nine schools in total.  

All nine UC schools have earned top national rankings as some of the best public universities in the country. U.S. News & World Report specifically ranks UCSB as the fifth-best public university in the nation. Evidently, all the UC colleges have earned notably respective authority as college institutions nationwide due to these rankings. Therefore, all nine UC schools, in my opinion, meet Instagram’s verification requirements. These requirements include authenticity, uniqueness, completeness and notability. UCSB’s Instagram account, as well as all of the other UC schools’ accounts, has proven authenticity through these national rankings, uniqueness by collectively belonging to the University of California, completeness in upholding public and thorough accounts and notability in being “well-known” and “featured in multiple news sources.” Thus, on a technical basis, the standards for verification are met among all the UC schools. 

Now, with all this being said, I could easily just send a suggestion to Instagram’s Help Center and call it a day. However, the issue is more complicated than that. There is more to UCSB’s verification status, or lack thereof — UCSB’s unverified status creates a construed interpretation of the college. I believe Instagram is further promoting the prestige and popularity statuses of UCLA, UC Berkeley and UCSD over the other UC schools. 

There is more to UCSB’s verification status, or lack thereof — UCSB’s unverified status creates a construed interpretation of the college.

At first, I thought it could be a result of these schools having more followers than the others. But this is not the case. As of Oct. 26, 2021, UC Irvine has 72.3K followers and UCSD has 68.4K followers, while UC Davis has 88.3K followers. So, despite each school having more followers than UCSD, both UCI and UC Davis still remain unverified. The same goes for UCSB in that it has 67.6K followers as opposed to UCSD’S 68.4K followers, with a 0.8K difference in followers.  

Additionally, UCLA, UC Berkeley and, in some circumstances, UCSD are all categorized in the top tier of the UC schools. Essentially, these colleges are considered first picks among aspiring college students. 

Why? The majority of the UC schools offer similar college experiences, similar major/degree programs and so many more aspects that parallel among all nine campuses. So why are UCLA, UC Berkeley and UCSD allotted more respect and admiration in comparison to the others? I feel like location, legacy, sports and so many more characteristics contribute to the popularity of these schools. UCSB, as well as the remaining UC schools, offer just as much, if not more, to their students. There is so much more that goes into this reality, but for now, I will settle with the fact that this stigma is real and affects the overall perception of the University of California. 

By failing to verify all UC school accounts, Instagram is facilitating the assumption that UCSB, UCI, UCD, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside and UC Merced are less important and less notable than UCLA, UC Berkeley, and UCSD. The University of California has cultivated some of the best universities in the world, and I feel like all campuses should be acknowledged equally by Instagram.

Another fact worth mentioning is that all eight Ivy League colleges are verified on Instagram. If Instagram can verify the Ivy League as a collective unit, then why can’t it verify the UC system as a collective unit? Some may argue that the Ivy League system upholds a highly prestigious and notable reputation that not even the UC schools can exhibit, thus proving Instagram’s reasoning for verification. But, I think the issue once again settles with Instagram’s inability to recognize the equality and unity these collegiate school systems sustain.

Ultimately, I hope that Instagram will make a change in order to better the interpretation of the University of California as a whole and exemplify the equal status of importance, nobility and authenticity of all nine UC schools — especially the one I hold nearest to my heart, UCSB!  

Reese Coblentz believes that Instagram needs to implement verification for all UC campuses on the notion that they should be perceived as equals, especially on one of the most active social media platforms in the world.