On Saturday, micro-blogging site Twitter went off the line yet again after it arbitrarily un-verified the Twitter account of Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu and removed the ‘blue tick’ verification attached to his profile.
The incident came to light after several social media users pointed out that Twitter un-verified Vice President Venkaiah Naidu from its platform by not providing any officials reasons for the same. Netizens also outraged against the micro-blogging site over its action against the country’s Vice President demanding immediate restoration of his ‘blue tick’.
As outrage grew louder, Twitter silently restored the ‘blue tick’ of M Venkaiah Naidu’s personal account and re-verified his profile. In the meantime, the official handle of the Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat), which has 9.3 lakh followers, continued to have the blue tick. Venkaiah Naidu’s personal Twitter handle has over 13 lakh followers.
Not just Vice President of India, Twitter has also removed verification of several other nationalist accounts, including RSS leaders, in the past few months without giving any reason. On Saturday, it has also removed the verification status of retired IAS officer Sanjay Dixit and taken away his ‘blue tick’ as well.
Twitter claims the account was in ‘inactive’ status
As social media debated the exact reason behind such arbitrary decision, Twitter sources said that the un-verification of M Venkaiah Naidu was done due to the ‘inactivity’ status of his account.
According to Twitter rules, the micro-blogging site may remove the blue verified badge and verified status of a Twitter account at any time and without notice if an account changes its username (@handle).
Twitter may also un-verify the account if it becomes inactive or incomplete or if the owner of the account is no longer for which position they were initially verified and do not otherwise meet their criteria for verification since leaving such position. According to Twitter, to keep their account active, one has to log in at least every 6 months, failing which Twitter will consider the account as ‘inactive’ and removes the ‘blue tick’.
In addition to these, Twitter may also remove the blue verified badge from accounts that are found to be in severe or repeated violation of the Twitter Rules, including impersonation or intentionally misleading people on Twitter by changing the display name or bio violations that result in immediate account suspension or repeated violations in Tweets. These include hateful conduct policy, abusive behaviour, glorification of violence policy, civic integrity policy, private information policy, platform manipulation and spam policy, and Twitter rules.
If one analysis the Twitter activity of M Venkaiah Naidu on his personal account, there is not a single tweet that is abusive or found to be violative of any rules suggested by Twitter, except ‘inactivity’.
Twitter’s ‘inactivity’ rules are flawed, micro-blogging site enforces such selectively
As per Twitter, the blue verified badge was removed from the Vice President of India’s personal Twitter handle over inactivity. However, the logic to remove the verification status of M Venkaiah Naidu over inactivity is flawed as Twitter has failed to enforce the same ‘inactivity’ rules to several other accounts on the platform.
The last tweet put out by M Venkaiah Naidu from his personal account (@MVenkaiahNaidu) was on January 9, 2020. According to Twitter rules, one will have six months to login into his/her account, failing which his account would be un-verified. As Venkaiah Naidu has not posted any tweet from the particular account for more than a year, Twitter considered that the account had violated their rules and un-verified his account.
However, Twitter’s enforcement of such ‘inactive’ rules is selective as it has not un-verified or taken away the verified badge from several other celebrity accounts despite violating such rules. It is also important to note that Twitter themselves have not strictly followed the inactivity rules to un-verify other accounts that have not been active on the social media platform for years.
For example, Twitter has still retained the verification status of the account of the left-wing stand-up comedy group ‘All India Backchod’, which is also now defunct over several sexual harassment cases, despite the account being inactive for nearly a year.
The last tweet put out by AIB on Twitter is on June 1, 2020. Since then, the account is inactive. However, Twitter which hurriedly un-verified M Venkaiah Naidu’s profile despite not violating any stated rules has looked the other way when it comes to enforcing rules against AIB.
Not just AIB, Gursimran Khamba, who claimed himself to a ‘comedian’ has not posted a single tweet in six years now. However, Twitter still retains his verified status.
Similarly, Rhea Chakraborty, who is accused in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case, is another account which is still in verified status despite violating Twitter ‘inactivity’ rules. Rhea has not been active on Twitter since July 16, 2020.
As per Twitter rules, the account is inactive and violated the rules of inactivity. Hence, her verified badge should be removed. However, Twitter has not removed her verification status like it did to M Venkaiah Naidu’s Twitter account.
It is rather intriguing to know why exactly Twitter chose to remove the verification status from Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu citing ‘inactivity’ rules even as it continued to grant special privileges to controversial left-wing accounts that are currently in inactive status for more than a year.