Twitter Yanks Verification Badge from White Nationalists After Public Commotion

Twitter Yanks Verification Badge from White Nationalists After Public Commotion

Kerry Wise
November 17, 2017

Twitter removed the blue "verification" check marks from a handful of prominent white nationalists and far-right conservatives and issued new guidelines after the uproar that followed its decision to verify the organizer of the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally that took place in August.

The official Twitter Support account announced big changes and strict rules concerning which accounts get verified with a bright blue check mark on the site, and which don't. Now Twitter says an account may become unverified if it's found to be "promoting hate and/or violence", "inciting or engaging in harassment", threatening violence, or promoting hate groups.

Today, Twitter admitted its policies in practice contradicted the company's claim that verification isn't an endorsement. "We should have addressed this earlier but did not prioritize the work as we should have". The company now faces increased pressure to censor a range of far-right accounts to eliminate hatred and harassment - a move interpreted by nationalists as an attempt to stifle free speech.

Twitter faced intense criticism after Kessler's profile was suddenly brandishing a blue tick - often viewed as a seal of approval on the micro-blogging service. His Twitter verification, which came just last week, caused an uproar and prompted the social network to suspend verifications for the time being. But the Internet didn't have much pity for any of the white nationalists who lost their verification status.

Twitter explains how users can lose their verified status

Twitter has not yet given a date as to when verification will be back up, so whether the update will act as a plaster over a bullet hole remains to be seen. The second rule on their list is likely why white nationalists are now un-verified: hate speech now breaks verification rules.

It's unclear why some Twitter users are losing their verification while others are removed from the site completely.

Laura Loomer, who received notoriety after having sent racist tweets about Uber and Lyft drivers, said that "Twitter is quick to call me and others Nazis, but they are literally trying to eradicate my presence". But also, we're a long way from the time before Twitter, Facebook and other new technology enabled the amplification of hateful voices - from white supremacists to radical Muslims and others. Spencer asked, subsequently tweeting that anyone on the right who retained their verified status was "system approved" and "utterly irrelevant".

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