Twitter has revamped its verification policies in light of people with subjectively unsavory political views receiving the sought-after blue checkmark. Due to these policy changes, conservative journalists have seen their accounts stripped of their “verified” status.
Originally, the point of Twitter’s verification status was for people to prove they are who they say they are if they qualify as a public figure. However, the nature and the purpose of Twitter’s blue checkmark came into question when Milo Yiannopoulos famously lost his coveted blue tick.
Twitter was led to rethink its verification process—and its meaning—after internet mobs voiced their outrage over one of the organizers of the Charlottesville rally getting verified. Instead of treating verification as verification, users argued verification was an implicit endorsement of the views of the verified user. Twitter responded by claiming it would revamp the verification process:
Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 9, 2017
On Wednesday, Twitter announced it had a change of heart over what accounts should be verified. In a series of tweets, Twitter said they had verified people who they “in no way endorse” and that it would be working towards making verification a “new program we are proud of”:
1 / UPDATE on our verification program and the actions we're taking.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 15, 2017
2 / Verification has long been perceived as an endorsement. We gave verified accounts visual prominence on the service which deepened this perception. We should have addressed this earlier but did not prioritize the work as we should have.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 15, 2017
3 / This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 15, 2017
4 / We're working on a new authentication and verification program. In the meantime, we are not accepting any public submissions for verification and have introduced new guidelines for the program. https://t.co/j6P0HGXIVq— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 15, 2017
5 / We are conducting an initial review of verified accounts and will remove verification from accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines. We will continue to review and take action as we work towards a new program we are proud of.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 15, 2017
The new Twitter verification page details that people can lose their badge if are viewed as promoting “hate.”
Shortly after the announcement, conservative journalists such as Laura Loomer and Tommy Robinson lost their verified status. Notable alt-right public figures lost their checkmarks:
Twitter just emailed me to tell me they are removing my "verified badge" because they claim my account "doesn't comply with Twitter's guidelines for verified accounts."— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) November 15, 2017
Translation: I'm a conservative. pic.twitter.com/F1AsxWI6Fm
Verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly White? 🤷🏻♂️— Richard 🦃 Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) November 15, 2017
Twitter has changed their verification policy just to be able to censor me. Several other accounts were unverified including Richard Spencer and James Allsup while Baked Alaska was permanently suspended altogether. pic.twitter.com/PO1QnJC2C6— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) November 15, 2017
People were quick to point out the decision to remove checkmarks appears to be political. Some of the people who are still verified include Harvey Weinstein and those who have called for the death of white people and President Trump:
Twitter strips verification from women while keeping Harvey Weinstein verified. pic.twitter.com/i7x3uy4pb2— Dailey (@The_Dailey) November 16, 2017
Can't wait for all these guys to lose their verified ticks! pic.twitter.com/dCWNAVPxYg— Allum Bokhari (@LibertarianBlue) November 16, 2017
Twitter suspends influential conservative Trump supporter @bakedalaska for no apparent reason yet @KeithOlbermann still has an account and is in clear violation of Twitter TOS. pic.twitter.com/PK7NE32G1s— Mike Tokes (@MikeTokes) November 15, 2017
By making the verification process dependent on holding socially acceptable political views, Twitter is playing a game of favorites. By taking away verifications for people who express anti-politically correct sentiments but keeping it for people who tweet about hating white people, Twitter is now expressly endorsing those positions under its new policy, which it ironically claims was never the point of verification in the first place.
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