After receiving a large public backlash for verifying the accounts of prominent white nationalists and far-right conservatives, Twitter has since removed the blue verification mark from specific controversial accounts.
The decision was made after the site verified Jason Kessler, who was the organizer of the Charlottesville rally that led to violence and the death of counter-protestor Heather Hayer and two state troopers who were killed in a helicopter crash while assisting with security.
Twitter grants blue check marks considered to be “verification” as a visual cue to ensure readers that certain accounts are authentic. The site announced on Wednesday via a thread on its support account that “verification has long been perceived as an endorsement,” which began back in 2009 to prevent impersonation accounts on the site. However, the problem was complicated last year when the verification process was opened to allow public submissions.
Last week, Twitter announced that it has stopped accepting public submissions while the program is under review and “removes verification from accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines.”
Although these accounts are still free to tweet and have full access to the service, those who’ve lost their authentication were quick to react on Twitter, stating that the site’s decision was an act on censorship.
Aside from Kessler, the accounts affected included white nationalist Richard Spencer and far-right activists Laura Loomer and James Allsup. The site also removed verification from Tommy Robinson, who hosts a show on the conservative site Rebel TV and Tim Gionet, who is an alt-right figure who dubbed himself “Baked Alaska,” which was later suspended from the service.
With it’s new set of guidelines issue last week, the site states that Twitter will now remove verification for “behaviors on and off Twitter,” including promoting hate and violence; threatening people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease; supporting hate groups; harassing others and violent behavior.
Accounts can still tweet after losing verification and continue to have access to full service of the site.