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Twitter doesn't even know what "verification" means anymore

12 November 2017

It is curious, then, that this week, the company chose to verify the account of Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally in August that left counter-protester Heather Heyer dead.

Twitter argues that the decision to verify a user is based on authenticating that user's identity (and to avoid mix-ups with parody or troll accounts) and is in no way an endorsement of that user. Kessler, in fact, tweeted that Heyer was "fat disgusting Communist". Twitter has previously come under fire for verifying other prominent white supremacists, including Richard Spencer. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on what exactly pausing "general verification" means.

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Still, there was strong uproar over Kessler's verification, with many wondering why Twitter chose to give the white nationalist the blue badge - especially after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted last month that the social media site would "take a more aggressive stance" in enforcing rules against "unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence".

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. According to Twitter, "a verified badge does not imply an endorsement", but tweets from verified users tend to appear near the top of searches, allowing information they contain to be disseminated faster.

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Verification is denoted by a blue checkmark on the user's profile.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey responded to the tidal wave of complaints a few days later, saying the verification policy was correctly followed in this circumstance but that it's a system that's long required an upgrade. Rather, the objective of verification is to simply confirm that the account holder is who they say they are.

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Twitter doesn't even know what