Twitter to halt verification of accounts after giving preferred status to white supremacist

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Just 26 days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recommitted to eliminating “hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that [glorify] violence,” the platform gave its preferred status designation to white supremacist Jason Kessler.

Kessler, one of the organizers of the controversial and violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past August, received his blue “verified” check-mark on Tuesday, causing a stir in the media and leading to a pause in Twitter’s verification process.

According to Twitter:

The blue verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic.

We approve account types maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas. If you believe your account is of public interest and should be verified, this article outlines information about submitting a request.

Users submitting a request to verify an account are reviewed by Twitter, which asks petitioners “why we should verify an account.” If the account represents a person, the company will seek “to understand their impact in their field.”

In August, Kessler made heinous remarks about Heather Heyer, who was killed while protesting white supremacists in Charlottesville. Kessler said she was a “fat, disgusting Communist” and that her death “was payback time.” He briefly deleted his account, excusing his remarks by saying they were caused by alcohol and drug intoxication.

“Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter,” Kessler wrote in a tweet Tuesday. “I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction.”

After Kessler’s Twitter account was verified on Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported on the designation. On Thursday, Twitter announced that it will “pause all general verifications.”

“Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” Twitter said in a statement. “We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications [sic] while we work and will report back soon.”

Dorsey also took his explanation to the social media platform, tweeting: “We should’ve communicated faster on this (yesterday): our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized 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.”

Twitter has explained why Kessler’s account was verified.

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