Much controversy has arisen as of late over Twitter’s little blue checkmark, and exact who and more particularly, who does not receive this illustrious mark of approval from the social media tycoon.
Twitter has not been abundantly clear on exactly how they determine that a user has earned the mark of verifiability, but it is generally recognized as a means of protecting the identities of famous individuals, as to prevent imposters from creating accounts in their name.
Unsurprisingly, when Twitter recently awarded the mark of verification to far-right organizers Jason Kessler, the main coordinator behind the alt-right Charlottesville march and Richard Spencer, infamous ringleader of the far-right movement and creator of Altright.com, users were up in arms. Many felt that through verification, Twitter was placing an insignia of support on the identities of certain controversial individuals. Twitter has subsequently removed verification from several alt- right users such as the above mentioned activists, as well as far-right organizers Laura Loomer, James Allsup, and Tommy Robinson. The company has also removed the account of notorious white-supremacist Twitter user Tim Gionet, better known by his alias “Baked Alaska.”
The removal of verification from, and termination of these users’ accounts came after a recent change Twitter made to it’s user guidelines. These guidelines now state that the company may remove verification on a number of grounds, including “directly attacking or threatening people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or diseases.” Although it seems clear that accounts of individuals endorsing the alt-right ideology, which promotes the propagation of white supremacy and the “ethnic cleaning” of America violate these guidelines, many prominent conservatives are taking Twitter’s actions as an attack on free speech, and fear that less radical, right wing activists may be next.
However, as a private company, Twitter has no obligation to observe free speech protections of its users. In the wake of these events, many conservative users have left Twitter, and migrated to Twitter’s less restrictive competitor, Gab. We can’t say we’re sad to see them go.
If you would like to learn more about your rights or believe that you have been discriminated against please visit the Civil Rights Justice Center located at 2150 N. 107th Street in Seattle Washington or visit our website at civilrightsjusticecenter.com