Seth Rogen may finally help us understand how a handful of white supremacists got to be verified on Twitter. On Tuesday, the actor tweeted that he’s been DMing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about the matter, with frustrating results:
The background: Twitter has long “verified” an account so that users will know it belongs to the person who says it’s theirs, often a celebrity, journalist, well-known organization, or other notable entity. (Verified accounts also have extra filtering tools that nonverified users don’t get.) The problem, of course, is that the blue check mark that verified accounts have looks like an institutional endorsement. In November 2017, Twitter verified the account of Jason Kessler, one of the main organizers of the violent Unite the Right rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia—an act on the social network’s part that led to a slew of criticism over how Twitter was enabling people like Kessler to spread their message. As a result of the uproar, Twitter revoked Kessler’s verification and the verifications of other well-known white supremacists; it also announced that it was pressing pause on the entire verification program to reassess its purpose. Basically nothing has changed since last November, and there haven’t been any developments regarding how the policy will be updated or when public submissions for verification will start up again.
But those check marks are still adorning some pretty odious accounts. The Twitter account of the Proud Boys, a self-described “Western Chauvinist” organization that has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is still verified, for example.
As for new verifications, Twitter has made an exception for some candidates running for public office in the midterm elections, as well as for a certain celebrity baby. We don’t know much beyond that about what Twitter is thinking about verifications, and how a new system would go about excluding hateful accounts. If Rogan thinks Dorsey “does not seem to give a fuck,” that would seem to be information a lot of us would like to know. Certainly, a lot of people replying to Rogen’s tweets thinks he should make those DMs public.
How about it, Seth?