On Wednesday, Twitter made a critical announcement pertaining to the status of having a ‘verified’ account. After a recent and rather widespread backlash on Twitter ensued when the company gave a verified status (blue checkmark) to the organizer of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, the company stopped verifying accounts altogether.
“Verification has long been perceived as an endorsement,” Twitter said in a series of tweets on Wednesday. “This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.”
The company announced a new set of guidelines for verification of Twitter accounts. These new guidelines state that the company “reserves the right to remove verification at any time without notice,” and that removal could occur for actions like “misleading people” with fake names, promoting hate speech or violence, and harassing others.
“We gave verified accounts visual prominence on the service which deepened this perception,” Twitter said. “This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.”
Amidst this, Twitter revoked verified account status for two accounts, namely that of Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimesnion) and Richard Spencer (@RichardBSpencer). Kessler and Spencer expressed their thoughts about the move through the following tweets:
By removing the verified status from an account, Twitter is attempting to combat abuse and hate speech on its network.
Twitter also announced that its verification program would remain paused until it revamps the criteria and system it uses to verify accounts. The first course of action remains revisiting already verified accounts and matching them against the new set of standards.
The question that now arises is whether Twitter will incorporate a new set of benchmarks to award the verified status and whether the verified accounts have to follow separate and stricter rules.