The official Twitter Support account announced big changes to the murky rules concerning which accounts get verified with a bright blue check mark on the site, and which don’t. The new guidelines come just a week after it verified Jason Kessler, the organizer behind August’s deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In another case today, the company banned Tim Gionet, better known as alt-right provocateur Baked Alaska, for unspecified reasons. Twitter typically declines to comment on disciplinary decisions around individual accounts.
In response to questions, the company pointed us to its verification support page, which reads in part: “Twitter reserves the right to remove verification at any time without notice.” Reasons for removing verification can 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 organizations or individuals that promote the above.”
So far the new list of actions that can lead to loss of verification includes a lot of basic behaviors that are already covered by the platform’s community guidelines, like harassment, encouraging violence, posting shocking imagery, promoting hate, and finally: “Engaging in activity on Twitter that violates the Twitter Rules.”
When asked why Twitter would de-verify an account for these infractions rather than suspend or ban it—or what these forthcoming guidelines might consist of—a Twitter spokesperson told Gizmodo that “we don’t have anything to share at the moment beyond the Tweets we just sent.”
Given that Twitter’s core problem is not the absence of rules, but the lack of consistency with which it enforces them, verification changes—and the users who are likely to have that status revoked—are likely to bring more headaches for an already embroiled company.