Twitter stops verifying users after Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' organizer is verified


The popular social media platform announced Thursday that it would suspend verifying accounts after it received heavy criticism for providing Jason Kessler, an organizer of the far-right Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a verification badge on Wednesday.

Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. And for Twitter, the Kessler situation is yet another setback in its attempt to win back user trust after a decade of inaction.

The move to verify Kessler's account comes after Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, had recently said the service was planning to toughen rules on hate speech then take on its verification policy. "We failed by not doing anything about it".

In response to Dorsey's tweet, some users criticized the tech firm for verifying Kessler in the first place. While the literal meaning of a check mark was about verifying identity, having a check mark has also evolved into a pseudo endorsement from the company - a confirmation that Twitter valued someone as important.

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The decision to verify Kessler and the fallout over it is just the latest in a long series of decisions that reveals the profound disconnect between Twitter leadership and its users. "I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction". Verifications have been "paused" until the company can resolve the "confusion". Twitter was historically opaque about its section process for verified accounts, but past year opened up applications for those seeking verified status. Comedian and active user Michael Ian Black tweeted that "verifying white supremacists reinforces the increasing belief that your site is a platform for hate speech". "Looks like it was payback time", he wrote, according to reports.

Ed Ho, general manager of Twitter's consumer product, tweeted that the company has known for a while there are problems with if verification program. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has about 553,000 followers, had his verification request denied and called the decision "absurd" on Twitter in March.

Even some Twitter's employees acknowledge the company should have fixed the problem earlier. "We knew it was busted as people confuse ID verification with endorsement".