Twitter stops verification badge amid Jason Kessler backlash

Gwen Vasquez
November 10, 2017

"Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or importance", the company said on Twitter. They are usually given to celebrities, politicians, and journalists.

After asking how the system now works, a Twitter spokesperson pointed TheWrap to its page outlining verification details, where it says "a verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter". Seems like the kind of person Twitter would not want to amplify, but alas no.

Unfortunately, Twitter's long and fuzzy history with verifications makes this a bit hard to swallow. White nationalist Richard Spencer has a blue checkmark, but WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has never managed to get his account verified.

Milo Yiannopoulos, former contributor for the right-wing site Breitbart, was also verified and then "un-verified" by Twitter, according to Vanity Fair, before he was permanently banned from the site.

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The verification of Jason Kessler, whose rally led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, sparked backlash online. And among users, the blue checkmark has become a sort of status symbol that implies legitimacy-many are more likely to trust a verified account simply due to its verified status.

The post drew furious replies and sparked blowback on the social media site, with users blasting the company for verifying the account, which many saw as an endorsement or a signal to users that Kessler was a noteworthy figure. "We have created this confusion". As a holder of the blue check, I can assure you plebeians that the privileges accorded us verified humans are enormous: Not only can I filter you non-notables out of my mentions, lets just say I get followed by a lot of Moldovan DJs. "Who do you value more, users like me or him?" "Communists have killed 94 million".

"Our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered", CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted Thursday morning.

Top Twitter officials weighed in on the Kessler decision Thursday from their personal accounts. Critics attacked the company for a move they said gave credibility and significance to white nationalism.

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