Twitter removes verified badges from several controversial accounts

16 Nov 2017

Twitter app on mobile. Image: Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

The latest change from Twitter sees controversial users lose their blue tick.

Last week, Twitter received harsh criticism when it verified the account of Jason Kessler, the organiser of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville where counter-protester Heather Heyer lost her life.

The controversy around deciding who is verified and who isn’t has intensified over the last number of months, as Twitter has been accused of endorsing the views of some far-right individuals by giving them blue-tick status.

Yesterday (15 November), Twitter issued new guidelines for verified accounts in an ongoing battle to solve its harassment issues. The verification process and regulations around it have been scrutinised since the feature’s inception in 2009, and Twitter has stopped public submissions for the verification programme as it irons out the new rules.

New regulations for verified accounts

Twitter said that it reserves the right to remove verification from a user’s account at any moment without prior notice, and it also highlighted that removal could be a consequence of user behaviour both on and off the platform itself.

Reasons for removal include: promoting hate or violence against (or directly attacking) other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease; inciting or engaging in harassment of others; violence and dangerous behaviour; disturbing imagery; self-harm and suicide content; or engaging in activity that violates any of the pre-existing Twitter rules.

White supremacist Richard Spencer and far-right figure Laura Loomer are two of a collection of users to have their verification badges revoked. EDL leader Tommy Robinson’s blue tick was also removed.

Twitter previously made a statement around the issue, saying: “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 prioritise the work as we should have.”

The company’s new regulations mark a small step in the right direction in terms of combatting the tidal wave of harassment and hate speech present on the platform.

Twitter app on mobile. Image: Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects