Twitter pauses verifications after verifying Charlottesville organizer

Twitter pauses verifications after verifying Charlottesville organizer
© Getty

Twitter announced on Thursday that it would temporarily stop verifying users out of concern over how its verification process is interpreted.

“Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” the company tweeted on Thursday. “We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The decision comes less than one day after outcry over Twitter's decision to verify Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who organized the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned violent in August. 

“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,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted after the company’s announcement on Thursday. “And we failed by not doing anything about it.”

Verification is denoted by a blue checkmark on the user's profile. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on what exactly pausing "general verification" means.

Twitter’s verifications, in certain cases, have been scrutinized by some who see them as Twitter giving tacit support to some users.

Twitter has also verified prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Twitter’s official policy is that the blue check is not an endorsement, but to show that “an account of public interest is authentic.”

“Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas,” their explanation continues.

The company has shied away from revoking verification as a punishment for users that violate its hate and abuse policies, instead sticking to suspending or deactivating the accounts of violators.

Some instances have muddied this though. Milo Yiannopoulos, a notable figure who is controversial for his right-wing stances, had his verification taken away. Twitter, per its standard policy of not publicly explaining its decisions on how it handles individual users’ accounts, did not give a reason for why Yiannopoulos lost his verified status.

He was ultimately banned from Twitter.

Following the Charlottesville rally, the social networking company took down several accounts of hate groups and promised to roll out tighter restrictions on hate speech on the platform.

-Updated at 12:16 p.m.