Twitter removes verified blue badge from far-right accounts after changing rules

  • Twitter has removed the verification status of white supremacists
  • The microblogging site said its verification status had caused a lot of "confusion" and said it was removing the blue badge from some profiles
  • Far-right figures Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer were among those to have their verified status revoked
The Twitter Inc. logo is seen behind a phone displaying the company's mobile application. The blue badge with white tick is the sign that an account is verified.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Twitter Inc. logo is seen behind a phone displaying the company's mobile application. The blue badge with white tick is the sign that an account is verified.

Twitter has revoked the verified status of white supremacists on its platform after changing the rules around who gets a blue badge.

The aim of verification is to let people know that an account of public interest is legitimate. But Twitter admitted in a tweet from November 9 that it is "interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance." At the time, the microblogging site that this was causing "confusion".

In a series of follow-up tweets, Twitter said the problems around verification were worsened when it allowed the public to submit requests for certain accounts to be verified.

The technology firm said it was no longer accepting public submissions and released new guidelines on verification. It also said it was reviewing and removing verification badges from accounts that did not meet the rules.

Some of the first accounts to lose the blue badge were those of noted white supremacists.

Richard Spencer, seen as one of the leading figures of the so-called alt-right movement, had his verification revoked. Spencer was involved in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in October that led to violent clashes and the death of one woman. He questioned Twitter's move to remove his verification.

Another far-right figure, Jason Kessler, also had his blue badge revoked. Kessler planned the "Unite the Right" rally in August in Charlottesville. Kessler claimed Twitter changed its policy to "censor" him.

Tommy Robinson, a Briton who is the former leader of the English Defense League, a far-right group, also tweeted that his verified status has been removed.

Twitter posted a number of reasons why people could have their blue badge removed. One of those is "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."

Other reasons also include violence or dangerous behavior.