What Is Verrit and Why Should I Care? (Unclear; You Shouldn’t.)

By
Peter Daou.

If you were fortunate enough to spend the holiday weekend outside of the toilet bowl that is Twitter, then you are also fortunate enough to not know a single thing about Verrit. If the start-up-y spelling of a Latin word root hasn’t tipped you off, Verrit is a, let’s say, misguided technology venture that was suddenly and surprisingly endorsed by Hillary Clinton over the weekend.

“I’m excited to sign up for @Verrit, a media platform for the 65.8 million! Will you join me and sign up too?” she tweeted, like someone who needed a bit of hockey-stick growth before taking a few series-A meetings. Let’s dive in.

What is Verrit?
Okay, so there are a couple of answers to this. At a surface level, Verrit is a website for … authenticating facts, I guess? It describes itself like this: “Verrit collects and contextualizes noteworthy facts, stats, and quotes for politically engaged citizens. Each ‘verrit’ is a verified item of information marked with a 7-digit identification code.” In practice, what this means is that Verrit produces little graphics with quotations and factoids on them, and then tweets them out with numbers, which you can use to “verify” that the quote, uh, came from Verrit. It’s like a shittier blockchain — a public record of information with a random string of numbers “authenticating” it. If the number is in the database, then it’s some sort of verified piece of info.

At a broader level, Verrit is a website started by Clinton digital strategist and entertainingly passionate Hillary defender Peter Daou, creator of the #HillaryMen hashtag, who seems to believe that the greatest threat facing this country besides Bernie Sanders supporters is the possibility that Vladimir Putin will tweet unverified and misattributed quotes. Verrit is the product of an unraveled mind that would prefer to relitigate the 2016 Democratic primary and general election until our sun burns out.

So Verrit is a database of facts?
I mean, sure, it’s a database of facts in the way that Fox News is a news source and a hot dog is a sandwich — maybe technically, but not in spirit or in good faith. Verrit bills itself as “media for the 65.8 million [voters who chose Hillary Clinton],” so there’s a pretty clear political agenda at play here.

It’s the kind of site where you’ll find verified facts like “Hillary Clinton Warned Against the ‘Incitement of Hatred’” (a warning she issued on … August 12, 2017). The site doesn’t host verified facts like “Hillary Clinton Called Black Children ‘Superpredators.’” Verrit is a site where “12% of Sanders supporters cast their vote for Trump over Clinton” is a fact with an authentication code, but “the majority of white women voted for Trump” isn’t.

Admittedly, that’s cherry-picking, but it illustrates the silliness of the central premise of the site. The problem with the internet is not that there is no place to find verified “facts.” There are lots of facts online, and many of them are true! The problem with the internet is that people don’t agree on which facts are relevant, and also that digital-media hucksters keep trying to sell us deeply misguided “solutions” to problems that aren’t really problems.

But are the facts useful?
No? I mean, they’re presented in a way that obfuscates rather than clarifies. For instance, one Verrit titled “Transgender Rights Are Under Siege in the U.S.” uses as its supporting fact, “In the United States, 1.4 million adults identify as transgender.” Those don’t exactly line up, though the attached blog post contains links to reports that better support the statement. (The thing is, nobody’s really going to read those blog posts. Verrit is premised on making branded, shareable JPEGs for social media.)

Verrits are useful talking points for anyone who is already in the Clinton wheelhouse, but the site is going to produce exactly zero converts. It’s for people who believe that Hillary Clinton lost not through a complex mélange of misogyny, bad campaign strategy, a decades-long political track record full of stumbles, and countless other aspects, but because Bernie Sanders was employed by Putin to disrupt the election by saying health care shouldn’t bankrupt anyone.

Who is writing these Verrits?
Great question! I have no idea. Seems like a weird occlusion for a site that assigns serial numbers to quotes and statistics, as if that somehow makes them truer.

Why did Hillary Clinton endorse it on Twitter?
I have no special insight into Hillary Clinton’s Twitter process, but, look, in her defense, no one tweets out links to stuff they really like on Sunday night over Labor Day weekend.

Hillary Clinton Endorses Verrit, a Platform for Uuuuuhhh …