Twitter halts verification system after Charlottesville organizer gets blue check


Twitter on Thursday put the brakes on its verification process following widespread backlash over its decision to give Jason Kessler, the organizer of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. this summer, a blue check mark. "We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it".

The decision comes days after Twitter authenticated an account belonging to the man who organized this summer's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Twitter's user guidelines allow for anonymous accounts, and anonymous users have been a big part of Twitter's identity and culture since the company's founding.

Twitter's policy states that it verifies accounts that are "determined to be an account of public interest" and that, "a verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter".

Unfortunately, Twitter's long and fuzzy history with verifications makes this a bit hard to swallow. "I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction".

The move to verify Kessler happened on Tuesday.

Ed Ho, general manager of Twitter's consumer products and engineering group also chimed in: "We knew it was busted as people confuse ID verification with endorsement". Twitter has also verified prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Shortly thereafter, Kessler tweeted a series of attacks against Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed at the rally. Chief executive Jack Dorsey said Twitter should have communicated its doubts about the verification system to users faster, and that the network had realized it needed to overhaul its verification process "some time ago".

That's because Kessler is now "verified", meaning that his name may be one of the first to appear when searching through Twitter, likely amplifying his voice on the social media site, as noted by the Washington Examiner. "Looks like it was payback time", before linking to the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It's not clear what changes the company is planning or when those changes will go into effect, though Dorsey promised to "fix faster".