Twitter Pauses Verifications After Backlash Over Verifying Far-Right Extremist

Cheryl Sanders
November 9, 2017

According to Twitter, its verification process is meant to "authenticate identify and voice" but is today interpreted as " an endorsement or an indicator of importance". But no matter which camp you fall into, having a verified account signifies one thing: Twitter is acknowledging that it knows who you are and is vouching for you.

On Thursday morning, two days after Kessler got his verification, Dorsey responded to the criticism on Twitter, saying that the company's verification program is "broken and needs to be reconsidered".


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.

Kessler, who posts under the handle @TheMadDimension, deleted his account for a brief period of time in August after he tweeted that "Heather Heyer", the woman who was mowed down by a vehicle at his rally, "was a fat, disgusting Communist". And for Twitter, the Kessler situation is yet another setback in its attempt to win back user trust after a decade of inaction.


The site's guidelines say in order to be verified, an account must include an email address and phone number, as well as a website link and an account biography that "specifies an area of expertise and/or a company mission". "I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction".

"This is disgusting", tweeted the comedian Michael Ian Black. White-nationalist figure Milo Yiannopoulos was "un-verified" a year ago amid a free-speech controversy without much explanation, and has since been banned from the platform. I don't want to give up Twitter, but I may have to.


More recently, an applications process was opened up by which accounts could state why they might justify verification, expanding massively the range of people who could potentially be verified. That included one recent commitment to create new rules around how it will handle hateful imagery and hate symbols, as well as violent groups using its service.

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