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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.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

6 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.