Twit­ter stops ver­i­fy­ing ac­counts

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Colleen Shalby colleen.shalby@la­times.com

Two days af­ter Twit­ter Inc. stamped a blue ver­i­fi­ca­tion badge on the Twit­ter ac­count of Ja­son Kessler — the far-right or­ga­nizer of Au­gust’s “Unite the Right” rally in Char­lottesville, Va. — the so­cial net­work an­nounced that it has tem­po­rar­ily stopped ver­i­fy­ing ac­counts as it reeval­u­ates the ser­vice.

“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,” the com­pany tweeted Thurs­day.

Kessler’s ver­i­fi­ca­tion on Tues­day prompted ques­tions and crit­i­cism.

Less than a month ago, Twit­ter co-founder Jack Dorsey as­serted the com­pany’s com­mit­ment and pri­or­ity to com­bat­ing ha­rass­ment on its plat­form. His com­ments came in the midst of the #WomenBoy­cottTwit­ter cam­paign that fol­lowed the sus­pen­sion of Rose McGowan’s Twit­ter ac­count. (The ac­tress ap­par­ently vi­o­lated the site’s terms of ser­vice by post­ing a pri­vate phone num­ber as she railed against sex­ual as­sault in Hol­ly­wood.)

“We de­cided to take a more ag­gres­sive stance in our rules and how we en­force them. New rules around: un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances, non-con­sen­sual nu­dity, hate sym­bols, vi­o­lent groups, and tweets that glo­ri­fies vi­o­lence,” Dorsey tweeted.

But Kessler’s tweets have not al­ways fol­lowed that pol­icy. In a now-deleted tweet from Au­gust, Kessler in­sulted Heather Heyer — the woman killed dur­ing the rally when a white su­prem­a­cist drove into a crowd of pro­test­ers — and por­trayed her death as jus­ti­fied.

Kessler later said he had mixed al­co­hol with pre­scrip­tion drugs — “I some­times wake up hav­ing done strange things I can’t re­mem­ber.”

The blue check mark re­mains on Kessler’s ac­count.

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