After pausing last week to have a re-think on how it hands out its prized blue ‘Verified’ badges, Twitter is making some big changes to how it goes about the entire process. As part of the revamp, the company has announced that it will revoke the verified status of users who fail to abide by its new guidelines. In a message posted on the company’s official Twitter account, the microblogging giant said that it is taking this step because of the increasing public perception that official verification of an account is actually an endorsement of the account-holder’s views and opinions.
1 / UPDATE on our verification program and the actions we're taking.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 15, 2017
According to Twitter, the fact that it gave visual prominence to these verified accounts actually deepened the perception of tacit approval, making the situation worse. The company also seemingly admitted to being lackadaisical in its approach towards the issue, saying that it “should have addressed this earlier but did not prioritize the work as we should have”. According to the post, “This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse”.
Twitter’s new guidelines clearly state that verification can be revoked for “promoting hate and/or violence against, or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease”. Users can also lose their verified status for “supporting organizations or individuals that promote the above” or for “inciting or engaging in harassment of others.”
While many Twitter users have complained about the social networking platform awarding its coveted ‘Verified’ badge to controversial and unsavory characters, the latest changes were virtually forced upon the company by the outrage that erupted after the account of notorious white supremacist, Jasson Kessler, was verified last week, just months after he praised the tragic and brutal murder of civil rights activist Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. As part of the purge, Twitter has already revoked the verification of Kessler and other infamous neo-nazis like Richard Spencer. While some have described Twitter’s latest policy as ‘better late than never’, others have argued that it is yet another effort from the left to stymie free speech.