CEO Jack Dorsey, who has repeatedly pledged to wipe out violent groups, hate speech and posts glorifying violence, has commented on the issue, saying that the verification system is "broken" and needs to be improved.
His comment came days after Twitter handed a verified badge to Jason Keller, the leader of the nationalist rally in Charlottesville that turned violent after a driver plowed into a crown of counter-protesters, killing a woman. Kessler later wrote on Twitter that the slain woman was a "fat, disgusting Communist" and her murder "was payback time."
"We failed by not doing anything about it," he added.
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. https://t.co/wVbfYJntHj— jack (@jack) 9 ноября 2017 г.
Twitter verifies accounts of a person of public interest, including politicians, celebrities and journalists. Verified accounts feature a blue check mark next to their name.
"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 said in a statement announcing the decision.
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) 9 ноября 2017 г.
Many Twitter users immediately reacted to the situation.
Well, that's because you guys treat it like an indicator of importance. It's not just an "interpretation" on our part. If it was simply to authenticate identity, I and many others wouldn't be rejected for verification over and over.— John Wolfe (@JohnWolfeYT) 9 ноября 2017 г.
"This is disgusting," tweeted the comedian Michael Ian Black who has over 2.1 million followers. "Verifying white supremacists reinforces the increasing belief that your site is a platform for hate speech. I don't want to give up Twitter, but I may have to. Who do you value more, users like me or him?"
Hey @jack: very active user, 2.1M followers here: this is disgusting. Verifying white supremacists reinforces the increasing belief that your site is a platform for hate speech. I don't want to give up Twitter, but I may have to. Who do you value more, users like me or him? https://t.co/5ymcNfFvH0— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) 9 ноября 2017 г.
Former Twitter employee Leslie Miley criticized Kessler’s verification, saying the move "legitimizes" racism.
I was at @Twitter when #Ferguson was on the wall in the Commons. I was at #Twitter when #BlackLivesMatter was on the wall in the Commons. I am glad I am not @Twitter when this happened. @Twitter you have legitimized people who would deny me existence based on my race. https://t.co/1WavV9TWxq— Leslie Miley (@shaft) 9 ноября 2017 г.
Many users also claimed that Twitter’s system is not transparent, as many people are denied verification even after multiple requests and following the rules.
I post this with no comment regarding the optics of the Twitter verification process: pic.twitter.com/stj6Y7Knz3— Schrödinger's Trump (@SchrodngrsTrump) 9 ноября 2017 г.
Twitter halted their verification program because they got called out for once again enabling white supremacists.
@jack Verification is absolutely an indicator of importance, considering most people cannot get verified. I tried a year ago and was told by Twitter that I was not influential enough for verification.— Chris De Jabet (@chrisdejabet) 9 ноября 2017 г.
So stop with the identity authentication line. Please.
You need to be a NAZI to be verified these days.— G. (@GuilleCummings) 9 ноября 2017 г.
Some suggested that suspension of the verification program is not exactly what is needed to keep the social media platform free from hate and violent speeches.
Important step. Next step should be revoking verification from Nazis. https://t.co/QbRBZvpt4W— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) 10 ноября 2017 г.
Twitter halted their verification program because they got called out for once again enabling white supremacists.— Stonekettle (@Stonekettle) 10 ноября 2017 г.
This isn't complicated, Twitter. And it's not about free speech. You're not the government (yet). You DON'T HAVE TO GIVE NAZIS A PLATFORM.
Following the incident, two lawsuits were filed against the organizers and attendees of the rally in order to prevent violent clashes from happening again.
The clashes have sparked a debate on the Confederate flags and monuments and also resulted in criticism of US President Donald Trump's attitude to the events at the white nationalist rally, who first blamed "both sides" for the violence, but later condemned all kinds of racism and supremacism.