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Richard Spencer, other white supremacists lose Twitter verification

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A week after the ruckus over blue checks on Twitter, the company has updated its policy on verifications and revoked the verifications of some white supremacists.

Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler and others have lost the blue check marks next to their names on Twitter.

“We are conducting an initial review of verified accounts and will remove verification from accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines,” the company said on its Twitter Support account Wednesday. “We will continue to review and take action as we work towards a new program we are proud of.”

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Among the things that could get someone’s verification revoked, according to Twitter’s updated policy: “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.” The company noted that this applies to behavior on and off Twitter.

(The above is also against the company’s broader rules, and could result in the suspension of a Twitter account. When reached Thursday, a Twitter spokesman declined to comment.)

Spencer leads the National Policy Institute, which shortly after the election of President Trump hosted a Washington convention where attendees performed Nazi salutes. He has been suspended — and reinstated — by Twitter. Now he’s check mark-less.

Jason Kessler has written for the Daily Caller and organized the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that turned deadly over the summer. His Twitter verification, which came just last week, caused an uproar and prompted the social network to suspend verifications for the time being.

Twitter admits its granting of blue check marks — supposedly a sign that an account is of public interest — has been problematic: “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 prioritize the work as we should have,” the company said on its Twitter Support account.

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Laura Loomer, a far-right activist who recently was banned from using Uber and Lyft because of her anti-Muslim remarks, also lost her blue check mark on Twitter.

Her reaction:

Twitter’s white-supremacist headache is ongoing, and the San Francisco company manages to please almost no one when it comes to the issue. For example, when the company recently increased the number of characters in each tweet, it got comments asking why it doesn’t “ban Nazis” instead.

We’re a long way from when Twitter was known as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.” But also, we’re a long way from the time before Twitter, Facebook and other new technology enabled the amplification of  hateful voices — from white supremacists to radical Muslims and others.

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Photo: Twitter’s app on an iPhone screen. (Richard Drew/AP)

Tags: twitter, verifications, white supremacists

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