Twitter revoked verification from white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler on Wednesday, following criticism that Twitter’s verified status lent legitimacy to their beliefs.
“Verification has long been perceived as an endorsement. We gave verified accounts visual prominence on the service which deepened this perception. We should have addressed this earlier but did not prioritize the work as we should have,” Twitter said on Wednesday. “This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.”
The social media platform is working on a new system for verifying accounts. Under new guidelines, Twitter can revoke verification for “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.” Users can also lose their verified status for “supporting organizations or individuals that promote the above” or for “inciting or engaging in harassment of others.”
Kessler — who organized the Charlottesville white supremacist rally and described anti-racism protester Heather Heyer’s death as “payback time” — was verified by Twitter last week, which sparked outrage from those who have called on Twitter to do more to limit harassment on the site.
On Wednesday, he and Spencer criticized Twitter’s new policy. “Verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly White?” said Spencer, who has argued for the creation of a “white ethno-state.”
“I’m not sure how they feel I’ve violated even their new policy,” Kessler wrote in a tweet. “I don’t engage in harassment. I simply stand up for white rights and criticize mass immigration policies.”