Twitter is removing its verification badge from accounts tweeting offensive content.
The microblogging site for years has placed a blue checkmark atop Twitter accounts of verified users — usually celebrities, athletes, politicians, the media and other well-known figures. The problem, Twitter says, is the checkmark badge appears to be a stamp of approval rather than a verification that the user is authentic.
“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,” reads a tweet from Twitter.
“This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.”
The people Twitter is referring to in this case are white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler. Spencer is president of white supremacist think tank, the National Policy Institute, while Kessler is an alt-right activist and the main organizer of the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both lost their badges on Wednesday.
The pair responded to the changes via tweets:
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
Twitter’s support page says it “reserves the right to remove verification at any time without notice.”
According to the post, a Twitter user may lose his or her authentication badge if he or she:
- Intentionally misleads people by changing his or her display name or bio.
- Promotes hate and/or violence against, or directly attacks or threatens other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. Supports organizations or individuals that promote the above.
- Incites or engages in the harassment of other Twitter users.
- Engages in violence or dangerous behavior by threatening or encouraging physical violence against an individual or any group of people, including threatening or promoting terrorism, posting violent, gruesome, shocking, or disturbing imagery or tweeting to the topics of self-harm or suicide.
Twitter says it has paused all general verifications while it works to solve the authentication problem “and will report back soon.”