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Twitter Hits Another Hiccup with Public Requests for Verification, Pauses Roll-out of New Process

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It seems like Twitter’s oft-troubled verification application process is struggling yet again, with the platform pausing the current expansion of access to its new and improved verification tool in order to refine the systems that it now has in place.

We’ve temporarily hit pause on rolling out access to apply for Verification so we can make improvements to the application and review process.

For those who have been waiting, we know this may be disappointing. We want to get things right, and appreciate your patience.

— Twitter Verified (@verified) August 13, 2021

Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour later provided a clarification as to what this actually means, noting that anyone who currently has access to the application process will not lose it, nor will applications be paused, as such.

to clarify, we haven’t paused applications. we’ve been gradually rolling out *access to* the application (it’s not at 100% yet) and that roll-out is paused until we can better handle the scale. for those it’s been rolled out to, we’re still accepting and processing applications.

— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) August 14, 2021

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So it’s not the same as the total pause that Twitter put on verification applications back in May – a week after re-opening them, following a four-year halt. But it’s indicative of another spanner in the works for Twitter’s internal assessment and approval systems, which have been consistently problematic, and have left many confused as to what Twitter’s blue tick actually means, and whether it carries the weight that some appear to place upon it.

As noted, Twitter initially paused public requests for profile verification back in 2017 after questions were raised as to how a prominent white supremacist, among other questionable identities, had been granted Twitter’s prestigious checkmark. That forced Twitter to reassess its entire process, which it admitted at the time had been confused, both internally and externally, as to what the profile badge actually meant.  

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

Twitter did continue to verify selected people after that time, but public requests were shuttered, as Twitter worked to fix its broken system.

In November last year, Twitter announced that it would be re-launching public verification applications in 2021, which gave hope to the many web celebrities seeking to underline their status and importance. Twitter also announced its tougher, more specific verification guidelines, which sought the clarify the meaning of the identifier. And while these new regulations are a positive step, they haven’t enabled Twitter to clarify past mistakes – so anyone who’s been mistakenly verified, or wouldn’t actually meet these new requirements, still gets to keep their blue tick.

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Which means that a level of confusion still remains – but no matter, working with what it can, Twitter has updated the process, solidified its systems, and it finally re-opened public verification requests, after four years, in May.

Then it shut them down a week later.

We’re rolling in verification requests. So we gotta hit pause on accepting any more for now while we review the ones that have been submitted.

We’ll reopen requests soon! (we pinky swear)

— Twitter Verified (@verified) May 28, 2021

To its credit, that pause only lasted three days, and was largely overblown by media outlets keen to highlight Twitter’s questionable record on such.

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But then again, Twitter’s record here is questionable, and has remained problematic. 

Back in July, web researcher Conspirador Norteño identified a range of bot accounts, each created less than a month prior, that had been approved for Twitter verification, somehow making their way through the platform’s more rigorous, updated assessment process.

Twitter verified bots

Twitter acknowledged the error, and deleted the accounts. But the case also provided some additional insight into how such a mistake could have occurred, and how Twitter’s new system could still erroneously approve the wrong profiles.

The problem, it seems, is that Twitter’s verification process is now largely automated, with humans only intervening in the final stages. That means that if spammers can work out what the system is looking for, they can likely push through false accounts and gain approval, without those profiles meeting the new requirements.

You would hope that Twitter would have updated its systems as a result – and maybe that’s what this latest pause is for. But still, the platform’s history of verifying the right accounts, by whatever criteria you choose, is not great.

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Can we be sure that Twitter is now getting it right?

And, really, does it actually even matter in the end?

Sure, having the blue checkmark does provide an extra level of endorsement, and authority in some respects, and that brings with it a level of trust in what that account is sharing. If you see public health advice from an account with a blue checkmark, for example, you’re more likely to trust that such info is correct – and in this sense, the badge does matter and is valuable within the Twitter experience.

But given the various changes in approach, there are a lot of accounts on Twitter that shouldn’t have the blue tick, and a lot of individuals, in particular, who you probably shouldn’t listen to either way.

So does it really make a difference if your account is verified or not?

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In terms of functional benefits, verified accounts do get access to specific alerts relating to other verified profiles, to help them maximize engagement with other prominent users. But outside of that, there’s no significant difference in how you use the platform. 

In terms of tweet reach, it stands to reason that verified accounts would see some boost in awareness, with Twitter likely highlighting such tweets more specifically in topic listings, and other recommendations. But Twitter doesn’t outline this specifically, only noting that:

“The blue badge is one of the ways we help people distinguish the authenticity of accounts that are of high public interest. It gives people on Twitter more context about who they’re having conversations with so they can determine if it’s trustworthy, which our research has shown leads to healthier, more informed conversations.”

I mean, healthier, more informed conversation, you would think, is the way that Twitter wants to go, so it would then logically follow that it would look to highlight tweets from verified accounts more often. But how significant the actual benefit might be is hard to say.

So again, does verification really make much difference?

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I mean, probably not. If you’re using Twitter to connect with your audience, you’ll be able to do so whether you’re verified or not, and while it would give your profile an extra level of presence and trust, it probably, functionally, doesn’t really change anything.

In other words, the impact of Twitter’s oft-confusing verification process on your process is probably not significant, as, really, no one knows for sure what the checkmark really means anyway.

Good to have, for sure, but a significant element of your tweet strategy? Probably not. 

And either way, if you’re in a region where public requests haven’t been rolled out yet, you can’t apply anyway, and won’t have the chance till Twitter re-assess its current process failings.

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TWITTER

Elon Musk Says He’ll Pay $11 Billion in Taxes in 2021 But Twitter Wants ‘Proof’

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Elon Musk took to Twitter to clarify once and for all that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes this year.

If the number of times Elon Musk could count when someone has asked him to pay the full taxes, he would be a very rich..wait, never mind. The Tesla boss is rich beyond any private individual has been in history, reports said.

Musk has increasingly been facing criticism from many politicians and many others who insist he has not been paying taxes as compared to the profits his companies have been making. On Sunday, the SpaceX CEO took to Twitter to share that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes.

For those wondering, I will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2021

But some of the questions did not stop. One person tweeted how they needed to see Musk’s tax returns while yet another asked how much percentage was that of his total income.

A few were, however scathing of the government who thought they will add that amount to their pockets rather than using it for some proper development.

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Wow that’s enough to give each person in the world almost $2 million but instead the government will just stick it in their pockets— greg (@greg16676935420) December 20, 2021

Why not $200 billion? Asking for a Senator— litquidity (@litcapital) December 20, 2021

Earlier this week, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren has tweeted to say that Musk should pay taxes and stop “freeloading off everyone else” after Time magazine named him its “person of the year”.

In response, Musk shot four tweets in which he said that the senator reminded him of a friend’s angry mom who yelled at everybody. He tweeted, ““And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.” “Don’t spend it all at once … oh wait you did already.”

He added further, “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason.”

Musk responded by saying that he “will pay more taxes than any American in history this year”. This Twitter exchange left netizens divided as even though many supported Warren and agreed that Musk should pay more taxes, others felt that he was already doing enough.

Musk’s Tesla is worth about $1 trillion. Over the last few weeks, he has sold nearly $14 billion worth of Tesla shares.

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The Tesla boss has been pushing for his colonize Mars agenda for years now, and has made it very clear in some occasions that he would rather spend the money on putting humanity on the red planet, than pay his taxes. “My plan,” the SpaceX founder tweeted about his fortune, “is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”

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TWITTER

Twitter Admits Policy ‘Errors’ After Far-Right Abuse Its New Rules of Posting Pictures

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Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.

Even the social network admitted the rollout of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.

It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.

Their concerns were quickly validated, with anti-extremism researcher Kristofer Goldsmith tweeting a screenshot of a far-right call-to-action circulating on Telegram: “Due to the new privacy policy at Twitter, things now unexpectedly work more in our favor.”

“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.

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Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.

Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.

“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.

In announcing the privacy policy on Tuesday, Twitter noted that “sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm.”

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But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”

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By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”

“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.

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Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream

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At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”

On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.

Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.

Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.

The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.

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Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.

The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.

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The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.

Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.

In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.

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Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.

Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.

But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.

“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.

See also  India police summon Twitter chief over viral video

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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