Last week the micro-blogging platform Twitter announced that it has paused general verification of profiles since people started misinterpreting verified Twitter profile as endorsement by Twitter.
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
Today morning they tweeted how they are now in the process of de-verification of already verified Twitter profiles where the user’s behaviour does not fall under the ‘new guidelines’.
One of the initial casualties of this this de-verification are Right Wing activists like Tommy Robinson, co-founder and former spokesperson of the English Defence League (EDL), a ‘street protest’ and British Nationalist movement. He left EDL in 2013 and in 2016 he set up Pegida UK, an anti-Islam organisation named after German nationalist party Pegida.
The truth is now hate speech pic.twitter.com/LHHFgdD05P
— Tommy Robinson ?? (@TRobinsonNewEra) November 15, 2017
Twitter announced new guidelines for blue ticks, saying users can lose their status if they “promote hate,” harass or threaten people based on “race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability [or] disease.”
The rules apply to behavior “on and off” Twitter, meaning users can lose their verification even if they do not violate its rules directly.
Other accounts which were de-verified are allegedly extreme Right Wing commentator Richard Spencer, and and Jason Kessler, who organized a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Twitter users outraged over this selective censorship where activists are ‘de-verified’ but Hollywood celebrities who have been recently accused of sexual harassment by multiple men and women are still ‘verified’ on Twitter.
So they remove my blue tick but …. pic.twitter.com/984ceYfVrU
— Tommy Robinson ?? (@TRobinsonNewEra) November 16, 2017
It is very good that @jack has taken a stand against the great evil of our day, that fiend @TRobinsonNewEra who must be prevented from opposing Islam. This de-verification sends a strong message that no-one is too powerful to be fought against. Thanks @Twitter for keeping us safe pic.twitter.com/0QRKMjjarQ
— Ash Sharp ?? ?? (@6crip) November 16, 2017
The change in policy was criticised by Twitter users who thought this is more like policing rather than identity verification.
Whoever advised Twitter to turn verification into an approbation of views rather than a confirmation of identity did not think this through. Now Twitter can be held accountable for every controversial thing said by a blue checkmark.
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) November 16, 2017
Twitter: We’ve made the process of verification too confusing.
Also Twitter: Okay now we’re going to start unverifying people who express opinions we find objectionable.
— David Chen (@davechensky) November 16, 2017
At a time when Twitter is completely uncooperative when it comes to helping women and men deal with abuse and rape threats and other harassment faced by many of us on a regular basis, these new ‘guidelines’ of policing individual behaviour of verified Twitter handles feels very juvenile.