Twitter suspends verification tool after white nationalist rally organizer gets check mark
Twitter’s blue verification badge has evolved to signify importance within the Twitter community, though the social giant recently faced backlash by awarding a badge to well-known white supremacist Jason Kessler.
Kessler recently made headlines for being an organizer of the far-right Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, Va. this past August.
WATCH: ‘Unite the Right’ rally organizer says Charlottesville police refused to do their job
Twitter’s current policy is to add a blue check mark to accounts that are verified as genuine to “authenticate identity and voice,” as the company said in a statement. After Kessler received the badge next to his name, the known white nationalist tweeted to his 13,000 followers about the development.
“Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter,” Kessler wrote in his tweet. “I must be the only working-class white advocate with that distinction.”
Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter. I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction. pic.twitter.com/IMXqtmhgvn
— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) November 7, 2017
Twitter removed the verification badge on Thursday after complaints about the verification began swirling on the platform.
“Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” Twitter support said. “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.”
WATCH: Protesters chase away ‘Unite the Right’ organizer at press conference
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.
“Our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered,” he tweeted, saying he should have addressed the issue sooner. “And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster.”
We should’ve communicated faster on this (yesterday): our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered. And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster. https://t.co/wVbfYJntHj
— jack (@jack) November 9, 2017
Kessler is best known for his role in organizing the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., which eventually turned violent and led to the death of one woman.
In addition, he was chased by an angry crowd after attempting to hold a press conference the day after the rally took place.