Twitter ‘Verifies’ Jason Kessler, Organizer Of Charlottesville White Supremacist Rally
Jason Kessler, the organizer of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that left one person dead, was verified on Twitter. The Daily Beast reports that the white supremacist got the official badge next to his name Tuesday.
The social media company, which recently made public statements about fighting hate speech on its platform, says the blue check mark is used to inform people “that an account of public interest is authentic.”
“A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter,” the site’s policy states.
Still, the verified status caused a swift backlash from other users on the platform.
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) November 9, 2017
Hope you realize there's no such thing as being neutral when it comes to Nazis. Verifying Jason Kessler is a political act — and one that puts you on the wrong side of history. https://t.co/VlvDaMwQO3
— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) November 9, 2017
Oh wait my bad @jack my bad. Nazis are ok for another couple weeks. I’ll follow-up w/you about your verification of Jason Kessler, known Nazi & organizer of rallies that end in murder, on the 22nd. pic.twitter.com/qyprrCRWYq
— Feminist Porg Queen (@missykaybm) November 8, 2017
Twitter just verified Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally. Why do they do this shit? https://t.co/mSeCckeNeB
— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) November 8, 2017
A day after @Twitter verifies Jason Kessler, who created the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, he tweets "Rose McGowan should be held accountable for being a thot that will do anything for attention." pic.twitter.com/tAWBu79IfQ
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) November 8, 2017
@twitter, get Jason Kessler off of Twitter. You’ve banned others for violent tweets. This is a dangerous man.
— ejwbooth (@enidjanebooth) November 9, 2017
.@Twitter, @TwitterSupport: is there a reason why that you decided to verify Jason Kessler? Look how he celebrated it? pic.twitter.com/IqwqQRDdgI
— Jack Sinclair (@jacktweetslife) November 9, 2017
Kessler previously called Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed when a car plowed into the crowd demonstrating against the white supremacists that descended on Charlotesville, “a fat, disgusting Communist.” He added that her death was “payback time.”
This is the organizer of the Unite the Right rally where Heather Heyer died. pic.twitter.com/MVnJHecLOt
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) August 19, 2017
Police identified James Alex Fields Jr., a white supremacist, as the driver who hit Heyer and others at the protest. He has been charged with multiple felonies, including one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident resulting in a death.
Last month, Kessler was indicted on a felony perjury charge after video surfaced showing that he had lied to a judge about the reason he punched a man in the face in January. Kessler claimed the man he assaulted had been the aggressor, but video showed otherwise.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to the backlash on Thursday, saying that the company needed to reconsider its verification process, a system he described as broken.
“We failed by not doing anything about it,” he wrote.
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) November 9, 2017
As a result, Twitter will halt its verification process while it examines how it authenticates users on the platform. The social media company acknowledged that the blue check mark is “interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance.”
“We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it,” the company said in a statement.
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
Still, Kessler’s account remains verified.