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Twitter strips verified status from Richard Spencer and others after new rules against hate

The company has said that it should have acted earlier.

Spencer speaking at the University of Florida in Gainesville in Florida.
Spencer speaking at the University of Florida in Gainesville in Florida.
Image: Orlando Sentinel/PA Images

TWITTER HAS BEEN removing verified status from some user accounts after it updated its rules and said the issue “should have addressed this earlier”.

Verified Twitter users have a blue tick beside their username to show that their identity has been verified.

Among those who were informed that their account is no longer verified were prominent US white nationalist Richard Spencer and Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League.

Robinson tweeted the email he received informing him of the decision. “The truth is now hate speech,” he said, along with a screenshot of the email from Twitter.

The email did not mention hate speech but said that his account did not comply with guidelines for verified accounts.

Twitter has been coming under increased pressure to deal with abusive and racist content on the platform. Among the specific criticisms were that accounts which promote racism have been given verified status.

Earlier this month, Twitter said that blue ticks were intended to authenticate identity alone but have been interpreted “as an endorsement or an indicator of importance”.

Twitter conducted a review of its verification program and last night said was introducing some changes. In a series of tweets, the social network said:

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 prioritise the work as we should have. This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.

We’re working on a new authentication and verification program. In the meantime, we are not accepting any public submissions for verification and have introduced new guidelines for the program.

The new guidelines for verified accounts says that Twitter can “remove verification at any time without notice”. Among the reasons for this include:

“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 organisations or individuals that promote the above.”

Read: Speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer drowned out by protesters >

Read: Twitter has officially doubled its character limit for all its users >

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