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Twitter to Suspend Verified-Profile Program After White Nationalist Backlash

Twitter to Suspend Verified-Profile Program After White Nationalist Backlash

Twitter on Tuesday gave its blue check "Verified" mark to Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who organized the Charlottesville rally. In general, Twitter verifies accounts belonging to a person of "public interest" such as celebrities, journalists and politicians but says that verification is not meant to be an endorsement of that individual. "We have created this confusion".

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".

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.

In an earlier article covering the topic, we noted that Twitter meant to take a look at how it verified public figures. Any Twitter user can apply for verification, but at times the company has appeared to wield the coveted status as a weapon. "We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience".

"A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter", the page states.




On Thursday morning Twitter announced it would pause its verification process indefinitely.

James Allsup, a conservative YouTube commentator who attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, is also verified on Twitter.

The company says the suspension is only temporary, and that it is working on a fix. Comedian and active user Michael Ian Black tweeted that "verifying white supremacists reinforces the increasing belief that your site is a platform for hate speech".

In a tweet early Thursday, founder Jack Dorsey attempted to apologize on behalf of Twitter and promised that the company would take immediate action to remedy the situation.

"We should've communicated faster on this", he said, acknowledging that the "system is broken". Adding a badge to a profile does differentiate a user and can be viewed as giving more credibility to an account simply because it has gone through a review process.

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