This is only my opinion not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.
I have been known to be hard on Facebook for “allowing” certain things to happen on their platform when their excuse is because of an algorithm. Perhaps that is the case, but you have to have a better algorithm then. There’s no other way to say that. Especially when your platform is growing at such an incredible rate. That being said, I’m not here to bash Facebook. Nor do I really want to bash Twitter but I am going to point out a huge flaw in their system.
Yesterday, Twitter decided to verify Jason Kessler. Kessler was one of the organizers of the August neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. You may remember that a woman died due to that incident. What might make this whole thing even worse is that Kessler tweeted afterward that the woman was a “fat disgusting Communist” and characterized her murder as “payback time”. I get chills even thinking about that. So why did Twitter verify Kessler in the first place?
Twitter isn’t saying. This is causing users to get incredibly angry, and rightfully so. As a result, Twitter is now suspending its verification procedures while they figure out what to do.
Kessler used Twitter to mobilize white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anyone else who was hateful enough to want to join his hate rally. When folks reached out to Twitter to ask why they verified him, Twitter was silent. But this morning Twitter decided to send out a tweet about verification. It read:
@TwitterSupport: 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
Perhaps that was it’s raison d’etre back in 2009, but that’s not the case anymore. Twitter clearly used its verification system as a form of punishment when users did something wrong. Back in 2016, it stripped Milo Yiannopoulos of his verification. They didn’t go on record and say that was the reason, but many speculated that it was. At the time they suggested it was due to a violation of their abusive behavior policy. Which makes sense, but then why verify these people in the first place?
Then there are people out there who can’t get verified. Like Julian Assange. The Wikileaks founder even attempted to create his own verification by putting a blue diamond next to his name. And he’s still not verified. So what does one have to do to get verified? Honestly, its kind of unclear. And how can Twitter get out in front of this one? First, they will need to tell the Twitter community how they give verifications. And also, why they rescind them from time to time. These rules need to be clear and understood by everyone. Otherwise, it looks like you’re supporting the actions of a hateful person. Jack Dorsey tweeted:
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.