Twitter facing criticism for verifying white supremacist organiser

Twitter facing criticism for verifying white supremacist organiser

Twitter verified the account of Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in Heather Heyer's death.

While the literal meaning of a check mark was about verifying identity, having a check mark has also evolved into a pseudo endorsement from the company - a confirmation that Twitter valued someone as important.

Twitter introduced verified accounts a few years ago as a way to tell apart the accounts of celebrities and other well-known users from parodies.

Kessler, who posts under the handle @TheMadDimension, deleted his account for a brief period of time in August after he tweeted that "Heather Heyer", the woman who was mowed down by a vehicle at his rally, "was a fat, disgusting Communist".

White nationalist Richard Spencer is also verified. Who do you value more, users like me or him? "We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon".

More news: Roy Moore's full statement on teen sex encounter allegation

In October, Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey updated its hateful speech policies, vowing to eliminate "hateful symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorify 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.

Verification is designed as a means simply to confirm the identity of the account owner.

But the truth is that giving someone a blue checkmark is by definition an indicator of importance.

"Go ahead, add that middle name or even a few more emojis", said Twitter, which has been attracting a great deal of criticism of late. Any Twitter user can apply for verification, but at times the company has appeared to wield the coveted status as a weapon. For critics of Twitter's ongoing failure to effectively address the harassment that occurs on its platform, the move was viewed as yet another example that the social network is not taking the appropriate actions to police its platform.

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