After User Outcry, Twitter Un-Verifies Accounts Of Famous White Nationalists

“We will continue to review and take action ...”

Exactly a year after Twitter temporarily suspended the account of National Policy Institute president Richard Spencer, the social network took away his verification as well as that of other prominent White nationalists. 

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Activists had long pushed for the change, saying verification not just confirms the identity of these Twitter users but also makes their hateful tweets more prominent on the platform.

This de-verification action came as Twitter updated its verification guidelines to clarify that receiving a blue check mark depends on compliance with its newly clarified rules.

Now, on its help page about verified accounts, Twitter specifies that it reserves the right to remove verification for accounts "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 [or] supporting organizations or individuals that promote the above."

The social network announced the changes in a tweet on Wednesday, November 15, writing, "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 declined to tell BuzzFeed News how many accounts had been unverified, but the latter organization noticed that Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler and Nationalist Review host James Allsup had lost their blue checkmarks, among others.

The news must come as a relief to Twitter users like @RobJamesBerry, who responded to Twitter's rule clarification earlier this month by asking, "How about you ban people who advocate ethnic cleansing instead of verifying them?" (The Southern Poverty Law Center says Spencer, for example, calls for "peaceful ethnic cleansing" for his vision of a "new society" for European culture.)

The Root's Monique Judge also railed against the social network verifying the accounts of White nationalists such as Jason Kessler. "Twitter just validated everything this man has to say by giving him that blue check mark after his name," she wrote after Kessler was verified on November 7. "But Twitter is taking a more aggressive stance against hate and violence, right? Right. Twitter is directly enabling white supremacy and white nationalist ideology. Twitter is full of shit."

Still, others worry Twitter is now endorsing political views through its verification system, which began as a way to confirm prominent Twitter users are who they say they are. "Instead of making verification about identity, now begins an endless, unresolvable series of editorial decisions that they'll be forced to defend," tweeted former Twitter executive Menotti Minutillo.

Meanwhile, Twitter is developing a new authentication and verification process, CNET reports, and is not accepting new requests.

Cover image: Vas Panagiotopoulos | Wikimedia Commons

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