Twitter has announced its updated account verification programme, in which it said that it may take away verified status- the blue tick/ badge- from users if they indulge in hateful speech or offensive content.  In a series of Tweets, the company said that the blue badges have been perceived as endorsements, and now Twitter wants to change the perception by publishing new guidelines for the verified accounts.

 

Twitter said in its guidelines that the company reserves the right to remove verification at any time without notice. It also said that a verified account may also lose its verified status if changes to the profile settings modify the account’s original purpose, and the accounts losing their verified status will not be able to restore their badges.The reasons for the removal include

  • Intentionally misleading people on Twitter by changing one’s display name or bio.
  • 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. Supporting organizations or individuals that promote the above.
  • Inciting or engaging in harassment of others.
  • Violence and dangerous behavior such as encouraging physical violence or indicating self-harm, and suicide.
  • Engaging in activity that violates the newly published Rules.

In action

Twitter has taken away the ‘verified badge’ from a couple of users, including Laura Loomer, a prominent alt-right activist and was also recently banned from ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft because of her anti-Muslim tweets.

According to Slate, Twitter has unverified other users as well such as  white nationalist Jason Kessler, and Richard Spencer, British anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson- to name a few.

Twitter on how it enforces rules

In a separate announcement, the company has also released its approach on how it enforces new rules, and how it reviews the content to enforce its range of actions. It said while determining the content, it considers points such as the behavior is directed, the user’s history of violating Twitter policies, severity of the violation, and of the report has been filed by the target of the abuse or a bystander.

It also said that the content may be a topic of legitimate public interest, and in this case Twitter will allow controversial content or behavior.  Some of the factors that it will take under consideration while allowing such content, include impact of the content on public, the source of the content, and the availability of alternative coverage of an event.

Battle against online harassment

A week ago, the company had published new set of rules and had updated its policies to address issues such as online abuse, spam, self-harm and other such issues on the social network. Twitter’s updates are part of its series to battle against online harassment.  Also, it will publish another set of rules on November 22, which will include new policies around violent groups, hateful imagery, and abusive usernames.