Internal emails obtained by BuzzFeed show that Twitter executives couldn’t agree on what the purposes of Twitter verification were for. Nearly two years ago after the company unverified alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, there was internal discussion on whether they should restore his verification or ban him from the site outright. Yet emails between Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Twitter execs reveal even the highest-ups in the company struggled to interpret its own verification policies. Was verification only a high-profile “ID check” or was it an endorsement from Twitter? As BuzzFeed reports:
The blue checkmark, first introduced in 2009, was supposed to prevent impersonation. But according to the emails, some inside Twitter viewed verification as both an endorsement and a badge of validity–especially among journalists and celebrities. Other emails reveal that verification bestowed upon users perks and status within the Twitter community. More broadly they suggest that verification was never quite what Twitter said it was and that the company was aware it served as a tacit endorsement long before it admitted so publicly.
The problem, one of the execs pointed out, was that though verification started out as one thing, it morphed into another:
“One challenge is how verification has morphed into something so much more than a well-intentioned identity check. It has become a cultural status symbol. It influences search ranking. It exempts a user from some spam filters. It gives them priority support treatment.”
Recently Twitter has come under fire for verifying voices that espouse hate and division. It’s tried to undo that damage in the recent weeks by not only unverifying those individuals, but blocking some of them.