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Twitter landed itself in hot water last week after verifying a known US white supremacist — and now it’s trying (again) to allay criticisms of its complicity in the rise of global nationalism.
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 (@TwitterSupport) November 9, 2017
Twitter’s first response was that it didn’t realise verification status was being used as an “indicator of endorsement” and that it was merely a form of identification.
The public refuted this claim, arguing that if that were true, the company would verify everyone who could prove their identity with a driver’s license or passport.
This argument falls apart when you choose to verify some people and not others. That makes the verification an endorsement. Serious fail @jack.
— Steve McKenna (@mckennase) November 9, 2017
Now, the company has paused all verifications, and is “working on a new authentication and verification program”.
This change is accompanied by a new set of guidelines that allows Twitter to remove verification based on behaviour.
Unacceptable behaviour includes intentionally misleading others by changing display names or bios, promoting hate against protected groups, harassing other users, encouraging violence, or breaking Twitter’s rules in general.
4 / We’re working on a new authentication and verification program. In the meantime, we are not accepting any public submissions for verification and have introduced new guidelines for the program. https://t.co/j6P0HGXIVq
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 15, 2017
Twitter has not yet given a date as to when verification will be back up, so whether the update will act as a plaster over a bullet hole remains to be seen.
Feature image: Memeburn