Twitter stops verification badge amid Jason Kessler backlash

Jason Kessler speaks to the media on Sunday August 13th 2017 before getting chased away by a crowd upset about the death of Heather Heyer

Twitter is pausing all "general verifications" after receiving criticism for verifying the man behind the deadly Charlottesville rally in August.

In a tweet outlining the decision, the social platform said, "verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance".

CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in on the issue, saying that the company has known for awhile that the system was broken. "We have created this confusion". They are usually given to celebrities, politicians, and journalists.

Before this halt, public interest accounts which includes those of users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas qualified to get verified. But having a verified account on Twitter is a status symbol that confers perks such as appearing at the top of searches. "We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon".

Twitter is halting its system for verifying users' identity, saying that the process has become "broken" and in need of fix.

The news follows backlash after Twitter assigned the blue and white check mark to white supremacist Jason Kessler.


The verification of Kessler's account angered many users because of previous posts and actions.

Events in Charlottesville resulted in the death of protester Heather Hayer - who Kessler called a "fat, disgusting communist" in the aftermath. "Looks like it was payback time", before linking to the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A tweet from the company's support account suggested that the verification scandal was a misunderstanding.

"They've always said from the beginning that verification is not an endorsement, but a check mark in our culture does seem to convey that to many people", said Stephen Balkam, founder of the Family Online Safety Institute, a nonprofit that's part of Twitter's Trust and Safety Council.

"We should've communicated faster on this", he said, acknowledging that the "system is broken".

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