Twitter Suspends Verification Process

12 November, 2017, 02:04 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • Jason Kessler speaks to the media on Sunday August 13th 2017 before getting chased away by a crowd upset about the death of Heather Heyer

Jason Kessler, the organizer of the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that left one woman dead, was verified on Twitter.

Twitter argues that the decision to verify a user is based on authenticating that user's identity (and to avoid mix-ups with parody or troll accounts) and is in no way an endorsement of that user.

Kessler has used his account to spread white supremacist propaganda and, following the Charlottesville rally, a tweet was sent from his account branding Heyer a "fat, disgusting Communist" and saying her death was "payback time". When verified Twitter users engage with other users on the platform, their engagement is more likely to send a notification, and verified users have the option to only get notifications from other verified users.

But many - including Yuh-Line Niou, a New York State Assembly member - are wondering why they still aren't verified while white nationalists like Kessler and Richard Spencer are.

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In what appeared to be a response to that overflowing of anger, Twitter said it "paused all general verifications". The platform verifies accounts across a range of fields-from sports people like Cristiano Ronaldo, to politicians like President Donald Trump, to religious figures like Pope Francis-but says that the account must be in the public interest to warrant verification.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted on Thursday that the company "realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered".

More recently, an applications process was opened up by which accounts could state why they might justify verification, expanding massively the range of people who could potentially be verified.

But Twitter's verification system has also become a status symbol over the years, in part because the group of verified users on Twitter is a very small portion of the overall user base. The account's tweets must also be set to public.

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