Twitter has paused its overhaul of the verification process in favour of protecting election integrity, Twitter’s new product head, Kayvon Beykpour has announced.

As the mid-term elections loom on the US this year, “updating our verification program isn’t a top priority for us right now, (election integrity is)” Beykpour, tweeted (interestingly Beykpour’s Twitter handle does not have the blue tick). In an email to Twitter’s health team, Beykpour said Twitter doesn’t have the bandwidth to address this [the verification process] holistically without coming at the cost of other policies and distracting the team.” He emphasized that election integrity is of highest priority at the moment.

Twitter has received flack for its current verification process, which provides a blue tick to those who apply for it. While Twitter has maintained that the bluetick is meant to verify that an account actually belongs to the person claiming so, it has been conflated with endorsements of those accounts by the platform. In November 2017, Twitter paused its account verifications as it tried to figure out a way to address confusion around what it means to be verified. This decision came shortly after people criticized Twitter for having verified accounts of alt-right nationalists in the US.

Twitter still verifies accounts on an ad-hoc basis when it “serves the public conversation and is in line with our policy” Beykpour said. “But this has led to frustration b/c our process remains opaque & inconsistent with our intented pause. This is far from ideal & we still intend to fix.” he said.

Instead, our team is focused on information quality ahead of the elections– our highest priority within the Health roadmap. This focus will help us move faster on what we think is most important. After we make more progress, we plan to address Verification.
Kayvon Beykpour, Product lead, Twitter

Account authentication via email or phone number

In June, Twitter said that users signing up for new accounts on Twitter will now need to authenticate their accounts with either an email address or a phone number. The authentication process had been standard across multiple social platforms and finally made its way on to Twitter as a way to curb abusive or fake accounts.

The change was announced for rollout later this year, and the company said that its two-year-old Trust and Safety Council will also be working with NGOs to “ensure this change does not hurt someone in a high-risk environment where anonymity is important.”