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Twitter, Facing Another Uproar, Pauses Its Verification Process

12 November 2017

That's because Mr. Kessler is a well-known white supremacist who has used Twitter to spread his message and organize rallies like Unite the Right's march in Charlottesville, Va., where torch wielding protesters marched through the streets chanting racist rallying cries.

"Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance", the company tweeted on Thursday.

Which is why people got upset on Wednesday when Twitter verified Kessler, a move that, in the minds of many, legitimized a white supremacist. "We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon", read a tweet from @TwitterSupport account. Seems like the kind of person Twitter would not want to amplify, but alas no.

Twitter verifies handles of influential celebrities, politicians, journalists, institutions and people known to have a huge following.

Many on Twitter are questioning the social media giant's decision to verify Kessler, with some threatening to delete their accounts.

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When requesting verification, account holders have to provide basic identity information-email address, phone number, photograph etc. It has also increased the characters for the Twitter display name.

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.

The company initially only verified select users, but opened up an application process for verification a little over a year ago. In other words, if you're not newsworthy by Twitter's standards, you may be denied verification.

But the debate around the verification of accounts like Kessler's and Spencer's shows that verification has come to be seen not simply as a marker of authenticity, but as a means of legitimizing the views propagated by an account.

Twitter, Facing Another Uproar, Pauses Its Verification Process