Twitter doesn’t presently “have the bandwidth” to overhaul its verification system at the moment, one of the company’s employees announced today. This comes despite Twitter’s continued acknowledgement that it must bring transparency and a clear process to verification and the blue checkmark, which has been stamped on accounts belonging to an erratic mix of world leaders, celebrities, athletes, business executives, journalists, and also alt-right nationalists. The company maintains that verification is fundamentally intended to confirm an account’s authenticity — not signal any sort of endorsement. But a lack of any real rhyme or reason to the verification system has made it easy to conflate the two.
Back in March, CEO Jack Dorsey envisioned a revamped verification approach that would allow any user to become verified “in a way that’s scalable, where [Twitter] is not in the way and people can verify more facts about themselves and we don’t have to be the judge or imply any bias on our part.”
But this afternoon, product lead Kayvon Beykpour said that his team is pausing work on retooling verification and the task “isn’t a top priority for us right now.” Instead, Twitter’s “health” team is focused on election integrity and combatting disinformation ahead of the coming US midterm elections this November and political contests elsewhere.
We’ve heard some questions recently about the status of Verification on Twitter, so wanted to address directly. Updating our verification program isn’t a top priority for us right now (election integrity is). Here’s some history & context, and how we plan to put it on our roadmap
— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) July 17, 2018
“This focus will help us move faster on what we think is most important,” Beykpour tweeted. “After we make more progress, we plan to address verification.” That could happen starting in about four weeks, he said, though that timetable might shift.
For now, the company says it will continue to grant verification on an ad hoc basis. In November, Twitter announced it was hitting pause on public verifications as it pursued a better system. But accounts are still verified “when we think it serves the public conversation and is in line with our policy,” Beykpour said. “This has led to frustration because our process remains opaque and inconsistent with our intented pause. This is far from ideal and we still intend to fix.”
But in an email sent to Twitter’s health leadership team, Beykpour laid out the current crunch on priorities. “I don’t believe we have the bandwidth to address this holistically without coming at the cost of other priorities and distracting the team,” he wrote. “We’re already doing way too many things, and focusing on this now will slow us down and lessen the quality of more important areas like elections integrity.”