Twitter Begins Removing Verification Badges For Rule Breakers

Twitter's blue check marks were supposed to authenticate identity "and voice" but had been interpreted as an endorsement, or that Twitter was indicating these accounts as being important.

"A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter", the company's own support page reads.

Twitter halted all new general verification of users on November 9 in response to a backlash over the verification of Jason Kessler, the USA far-right figure who organised the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville at which counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed in August.

Anyone "promoting hate and/or violence, supporting hate groups, "inciting or engaging in harassment of others" will lose their verification".

Twitter said, 'Verification has always been perceived as an endorsement. "We will continue to review and take action as we work towards a new program we are proud of". The social networking site also has a new guideline in place for verified accounts and is revoking the status of some already verified accounts which don't fall under them.

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Among the accounts stripped off their badges are white supremacist Jason Kessler, who organized the infamous Charlottesville rally; Richard Spencer, another white supremacist; Baked Alaska, a known alt-right troll; and right-wing activist Laura Loomer, banned from ride-hailing services earlier this month after posting anti-Muslim rants on Twitter. The company now faces increased pressure to censor a range of far-right accounts to eliminate hatred and harassment - a move interpreted by nationalists as an attempt to stifle free speech. Soon after the policy change, a number of accounts lost their verification status. "Who do you value more, users like me or him?" "We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience". And it comes as the publicly traded company faces increased pressure to weed out the hateful speech, images and threats that have blossomed on the service in recent years.

"Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas", Twitter explains on its website.

The move is part of a raft of changes recently adopted by Twitter.

The individuals behind the targeted accounts have claimed the social network is attempting to silence them for their views.

Twitter is planning to review its authentication and verification process.

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