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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios 

Twitter’s approach to verified accounts deserves all the criticism it gets. Recent moves to halt new verifications — and even to remove previously granted blue check marks — will do little to reduce the hate speech, violent threats, and abuse that run rampant across the platform. Amid pressure to keep adding users, Twitter’s best approach can’t possibly be to eliminate rudimentary safeguards.

Indeed, the steps will make Twitter's influence on politics even worse. Come 2018 and 2020, elected officials, candidates and even our strongest democratic institutions will face asymmetric warfare in which traceless attacks remain unstoppable. The threat isn’t tangible like a tank or a bomb, but left unchecked it’s every bit as dangerous.

So how can the service increase both its platform’s appeal and the company’s market value? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Revise the Verification option. Make it easier for more people to apply and be approved, by removing the public figure requirement and allowing anonymous user names.
  2. Create “Identified” status. This could build on Verified status by requiring a real name.
  3. Add detail to account pages. Banners should prominently mention the date an account was created — that information is currently available but buried.
  4. Allow users to report suspected bots and trolls. These should be treated just as threats and abuse already are.
  5. Mark users with a high rate of deletions. Many accounts trying to appear legitimate remove their more pointed tweets shortly after posting.
  6. Create an “Overlap” button. Viewing accounts followed in common is an easy form of vetting.

The bottom line: While making these changes might cause an initial drop in Twitter’s user numbers, it will create a far more valuable platform. And even if it doesn’t, it’s the right thing to do.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.