Verified no more, Twitter drops blue check from white nationalists' accounts
Twitter has dropped the “verified” status from alt-right leaders Richard Spencer, organizers Laura Loomis and Jason Kessler, English Defence League Founder Tommy Robinson and others.
In the sweep of verification revocations, Twitter also suspended the account of 29-year-old Tim Gionet, a white nationalist who posted under the handle @Baked Alaska and had about 200,000 followers.
Gionet, who has also been barred from Uber, GoFundMe and other platforms, used his Twitter account to send out the so-called 14 Words, a popular phrase among neo-Nazis, and posed the question in December 2016: “Internet: Why do you want to gas the Jews?”
The move comes in the hours after Twitter announced new guidelines on Wednesday for the much sought after verified status for accounts and days after it temporarily halted verifications after granting one to Kessler, the organizer of the alt-right’s deadly Charlottesville rally.
The new rules, which the company tweeted out, stop public submission for verified accounts, which was meant to authenticate and identify voices of public interest.
The company said many took the verification as an endorsement, which it isn’t.
Under the new regulations, Twitter can revoke verified status if an account holder promotes hate or violence, directly attacks or threatens other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or a host of other factors.
Twitter has long been a user-friendly platform for alt-right leaders and a quick and popular way to spread their message.
As expected, white supremacists and alt-right leaders reacted in less than friendly terms.
Loomer posted an email from Twitter support notifying her of the loss of verified status.
After explaining the email, Loomer offer this explanation: “Translation: I’m conservative.”
Spencer tweeted “Verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly white?”
Gionet, in a livestream posted on YouTube shot outside an In-N-Out burger stand, said he was stunned by the Twitter ban.
“I am completely pissed off. I am completely confused,” Gionet said. “I have literally not done anything. I have been an angel.”
Will Westcott, who describes himself on Twitter as “America First” and whose feed is filled with anti-Jewish remarks and photos, reacted to the rules changes by comparing the blue check mark to the yellow stars Nazis forced Jews to wear in the 1930s and 1940s.
“Anyone who has one (verification status) is a digital Jew,” Westcott wrote.
Others, though, were happier to see the blue check marks go from members of the alt-right.
“People are losing their blue checkmarks and getting their accounts deleted not because they are conservatives, but because they are bigots, period,” tweeted @Jared_Stancombe, who describes himself as a “former urban teacher.”