Twitter Pauses Verifications After Jason Kessler Badge Outrage

by Kim Boateng Last updated on April 16th, 2018,

San Francisco, California, USA: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says the social media giant is halting its entire general verification program following widespread outrage, after Twitter verified Jason Kessler’s account – the blue verification badge – on Tuesday afternoon.

John Kessler organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year. John Kessler also later disparaged  the woman who was killed at the Unite the Right march, Heather Heyer.

It was right to troll Heather Heyer. I media was depicting a marty, not a human being. Iconoclasm serves a purpose.: Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension)

John Kessler was later molested when he tried to give a a press conference in front of Charlottesville City Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 13, 2017, following the car attack in Charlottesville.

Jack Dorsey Twitter CEO : “Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon”

Twitter Support: “Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon”

John Kessler capitalized on the outrage over his verification, taking advantage of the increased attention to stoke the flames of racial division even further.

Is it okay to be white? : Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension)

Twitter was critisized by some of its more influential users for perceived hypocrisy and hand-wringing in the face of a clearly problematic verification process.

Twitter’s own verification page demonstrates that @jack and @TwitterSupport are lying about verification. It’s explicitly about importance. :Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser)

The social media site has been accused of courting controversial figures before, drawing ire from its general user base as a result. Notorious troll Milo Yiannopoulos eventually had his account deactivated in July after a litany of alleged abuses.

You verified Richard Spencer : Ladies Jacket Club (@subtlerbutler)

“It’s recognition. It’s a simple as that,” Richard Spencer, a white supremacist verified by Twitter in 2016, said in an interview, was cited by media outlets. “The blue checkmark is useful.” Richard Spencer concluded.

Twitter temporarily removed the blue check from outspoken conservative activist Laura Loomer for alleged Is********ia… before backtracking.

Even US President Donald Trump’s alleged ‘abuse’ of the social media platform’s terms of service has been tacitly allowed, much to the chagrin of his opponents both at home and abroad.

Twitter also suspended actor Rose McGowan’s account for a brief period after she came forward with allegations of saxual harassment against Harvey Weinstein. A hashtag campaign swiftly saw her reinstated, but added yet another faux pas to Twitter’s list of recent transgressions among the online online community.

TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME. THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE. #ROSEARMY #whywomendontreportA post shared by Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) on Oct 11, 2017 at 9:19pm PDT

We have been in touch with Ms. McGowan’s team. We want to explain that her account was temporarily locked because one of her Tweets included a private phone number, which violates our Terms of Service. 1/3 :Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety)

I’m gonna bet it’s the latter – tech world is rife with fascist male douchebaggery. See also Damore, James: Nandini (@nandelabra)

Yeah, but it’s interesting who you choose to verify. I’ve been turned down three times: Erin Maher (@theerinmaher)

Others defended the decision to verify Kessler’s account, among other controversial figures, by citing the right to free speech and the importance of allowing people to express their beliefs, however distasteful, to generate debate in the free market of ideas online.

And? You may not like him, I may not like him, it doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be verified. You can’t say that he’s not influential or important: Inky (@1nkybinky)

That’s not how any of this works. Let those you disagree with speak, so that you know you disagree with them and can more readily convince others of their “wrongness” – that’s how free speech works. #1A : TJ (@trejrco)

Yes, why don’t people in this country understand what the 1st amendment is all about !: Davidson (@VikkyDavidson)

The social media giant has faced a series of high profile issues in recent weeks. Just last Thursday (Nov 2) an exiting employee deactivated US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, a key tool in his public relations machine. However, it’s worth noting that Twitter has recently doubled its character limit to 280, affording people the ability to express themselves in longer, less-truncated diatribes than ever before.

Twitter says it is is “continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again”

Author

Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

With a Degree in Environmental Sciences, Kim the self professed jack of all trades and master of some simply "goes there" and brings a level of attention and detail to Nigeria Circle's quest for excellence in investigative journalism that sets her apart. Before journalism she worked in Safety, Quality Assurance and Control in several industries.
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