Welcome to 2017, where not only is Donald Trump (still!) the president of the United States, but the organizer of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally—which left one person dead—can also receive affirmation from a leading social media company in a time when almost every other digital platform has said “alt-right-delete.”
“Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter,” Jason Kessler tweeted on Tuesday. “I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction.”
Kessler’s blue check comes not even a whole month after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised “a more aggressive stance” in how it enforces its rules regarding sensitive content. In an email to the social media company’s Trust & Safety Council, Twitter later outlined plans to crack down on “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies [sic] violence.”
In a similar fashion to how adult content and graphic violence is handled on the platform, offensive content—which now includes that related to violent groups, organizations that use or have historically used violence to advance its causes, and tweets that “glorify” or “condone” violence—will be blurred out with a manual option to view.
What we find most interesting is that, as CNN has noted, what’s considered a hate symbol wasn’t specified in the email. And let’s not be remiss: in August, Kessler referred to Heather Heyer as “a fat, disgusting Communist” and alluded to her death as “payback time.”
Is there some sort of exception we should know about here?
“A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter,” according to the site’s policy. But other digital companies have decidedly taken a different stance in recent months.
Days after the horrific events in Charlottesville, Spotify removed music by white supremacist artists from its library, while GoDaddy gave white supremacist website The Daily Stormer the boot from its domain registrar. OkCupid and Facebook banned white supremacist Chris Cantwell from its platforms. And Bumble joined forces with the Anti-Defamation League “to proactively remove and ban all forms of hate speech and symbols from its platform of nearly 20 million users worldwide.”
Twitter may not be “endorsing” white supremacy, but by verifying one of its figureheads, it essentially pulled out a big, cushy seat while saying “Here! Make yourself at home.”
After multiple complaints regarding the verification of far-right and white supremacist accounts, Dorsey says Twitter’s “broken” profile verification system—which has since been halted—is being reconsidered.
“Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice, but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” the company said in a statement. “We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it.”
The company also recently released a revised version of its rules in an effort to provide clarification.