Twitter took heat all through 2017 for bungling its delicate balance between protecting free speech and enforcing its policies to protect users from harassment. One of the flashpoints was the unintended validation Twitter gave to users it 'verified,' which ended up including a number of white supremacists and other terrible people. The platform stopped allowing public requests to get the coveted blue checkmarks in mid-November while it re-evaluated the process. But over the last few days, at least one user has been quietly verified.
As Fast Company reported, author Michael Wolff of the recent Trump book Fire and Fury got his blue checkmark sometime last weekend; Checking the Internet Archive, it happened sometime between January 3rd and January 7th. Given that Wolff's book was published on January 5th, it's unclear if Twitter planned to validate his account alongside the release or if it was the first new checkmark to get noticed.
Which would mean that Wolff would be among the first Twitter began verifying with an assumedly new set of rules. It's worth pointing out that a week before, the platform stripped one user's blue badge after her terrible (and allegedly unlawful) actions were brought to light by Chrissy Teigen and John Legend (naturally).
Engadget reached out to Twitter to confirm and will update when we hear back.
Update: Twitter responded to request for comment, saying that while public submissions have been paused, the company is still verifying with the help of 'trusted partners.'
"Per our last update, we have paused public submissions for verification while we focus on a new authentication and verification program. However, our teams around the world continue to work closely with trusted partners to verify select accounts," a Twitter spokesperson told Engadget over email.