Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Science | By Eileen Rhodes

Twitter attacked after it verifies account of Charlottesville rally organizer

Twitter attacked after it verifies account of Charlottesville rally organizer

Everyone is mad at Twitter again, this time over the company's decision to verify Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville this past August. Twitter says that the check is exclusively meant to "authenticate identity & voice" but that rather it has been interpreted as "an endorsement or an indicator of importance". "We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it".

Ed Ho, general manager of Twitter's consumer products and engineering group also chimed in: "We knew it was busted as people confuse ID verification with endorsement". It still doesn't explain why Kessler's account was verified - and regardless of the reasoning, outrage around this move is spreading quickly.

Yet others began to ask: Just why did Twitter verify Kessler, who tweeted Tuesday night that "large swathes of (Virginia) have no recognizable Americans; look like a third world bazaar" after voters in the state elected Democrat Ralph Northam as governor. But having a verified account on Twitter is a status symbol that confers perks such as appearing at the top of searches. "We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience".

James Allsup, a conservative YouTube commentator who attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, is also verified on Twitter.

The revelation that Twitter had lent its imprimatur to such a figure unleashed an angry response and, within hours, led the site to issue a statement pledging to temporarily halt new verifications as it reexamine the process. "Looks like it was payback time", he wrote, according to reports.

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Kessler did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Twitter's latest decision.

Dorsey retweeted the message and assured he was working to fix the problem.

BBC quoted Twitter founder Jack Dorsey as saying that the scheme would now be "reconsidered'".

"We should have stopped the current process at the beginning of the year", Ho said.

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