Programmatic Lunch

Twitter suspends account verification after it verified white supremacist

Tyrone Stewart

TwitterTwitter has decided to stop verifying users for the time being after it came under fire for providing a known white supremacist with the microblogging platform’s sought after blue tick.

Earlier this week, Twitter gave the tick – which is actually white tick surrounded by blue, but minor details – to Jason Kessler, who is credited with organising the white supremacist/neo-Nazi/KKK/neo-confederate rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.

This forced Twitter to confirm that verifications aren’t actually there to signify the importance of an individual, but to make it clear that their account is real.

“Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” said Twitter’s support team. “We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon.”

This begs the question as to why all real accounts aren’t then verified. The comment thread below Twitter’s support team’s tweet is full of users who have been rejected verification. These people include established authors, editors, community diversity projects, public speakers, activists, and more.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also weighed in. He said: “We should’ve communicated faster on this (yesterday): our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realised some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered. And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster.”

The problem is the comments of both Dorsey and his support team contradict the guidelines for getting verified. The Twitter verification support page states that people seeking verification must display that their account is newsworthy or relevant in their field. It also states that accounts must be of public interest.

So, actually, everybody was right in thinking verification represents an endorsement or indication of importance.

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