Dec 20, 2017

Even Twitter execs struggle to understand its verification policy

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

An internal email exchange between Twitter executives, obtained by Buzzfeed, over whether to unverify a Twitter troll suggests that even the company's leaders don't understand how to interpret their vague verification and harassment rules.

Why it matters: The emails provide an inside look into Twitter's battle to police abuse on its platform, and show how the dysfunction with its policy starts at the top. Meanwhile, abuse on Twitter is growing in intensity and size, and the network will have to either create more clarity and find new ways stop harassment, or risk losing its credibility.

The emails: The internal exchange began after Twitter yanked Milo Yiannopoulos', then-Breitbart's tech editor, blue verification checkmark for having harassed other users. Yiannopoulos then emailed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking for his verification to be restored in return for better behavior. Dorsey forwarded the message to other executives, who went back and forth about how to handle the request.

Eventually, one executive wrote: "I'd like to understand the verification policy and whether or not he is eligible or what would make him eligible. That should be an objective criteria in my view." The emails that followed suggest that they instead made judgment calls to determine how to respond to instances of abuse.

Go deeper: Philippe Reines, a political consultant and former deputy assistant secretary of state, wrote an Op-Ed in Axios outlining six ways Twitter could fix its verification problem.

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Acting Navy head apologizes for calling fired captain "stupid"

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly apologized Monday for calling Capt. Brett Crozier, the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, "too naïve or too stupid" over his letter pleading for help following a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

The big picture: His apology came after President Trump told a news briefing earlier Monday he would "get involved" following a leak of Modly's remarks to the ship's crew on Crozier, who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, which were obtained by CNN.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,346,299 — Total deaths: 74,679 — Total recoveries: 276,636Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 367,507— Total deaths: 10,908 — Total recoveries: 19,598Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's High Court.

Why it matters: The cardinal became last year the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. But the High Court's ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - World