- Twitter on Tuesday announced it’s relaunching its public application program for verified status, marked by a blue check.
- The program was paused in 2017 after Twitter granted the blue check mark to one of the organizers of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparking outrage.
- Twitter has now proposed a set of new policies for the program, including the possibility that accounts have their blue check marks taken away if they repeatedly break Twitter’s rules.
- This means President Donald Trump, who in January will lose his “world leader” protections for rule violations, could be in danger of losing his verified status if he continues to tweet the way he has in the past.
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Twitter is rebooting its verification system, and the proposed new guidelines could see persistent rulebreakers stripped of their coveted blue check marks.
Twitter gives “verified” status to selected accounts belonging to public figures and organizations, signified by a blue check mark next to their account name. The system has been on ice for three years, but the company announced Tuesday that its application process for verified status would relaunch early next year.
The company is asking for user feedback on proposed new rules before the relaunch. The proposals include clearer rules on who is eligible for a blue check, but they also contain a threat. Verified accounts could lose their blue checks if they repeatedly break Twitter’s rules.
This puts the Twitter account of President Donald Trump in a precarious position.
At the moment, even if Trump posts material that breaks Twitter’s rules, he is protected by his status as a head of state. Twitter has said accounts with “world leader” status are newsworthy and users should therefore be able to see their tweets even if they break the platform’s rules.
Trump has broken Twitter’s rules before. In May, he used the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in a tweet about unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Twitter placed this behind a click-through block, notifying users the tweet broke its rules on “glorifying violence.”
Since the election, the platform has also placed numerous tweets from Trump behind click-through blocks for breaking its rules on election integrity. For example, it applied a block to a November 5 tweet from Trump falsely claiming “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!”
This means that if Trump continues to tweet with the same abandon he’s employed during his presidency, Twitter could both take away his blue check mark and boot him off the platform altogether.
Twitter said in a blog post that its new policy “will lay the foundation for future improvements by defining what verification means, who is eligible for verification, and why some accounts might lose verification to ensure the process is more equitable.”
Twitter’s public verification program was put in hold in 2017 after the platform granted verified status to Jason Kessler, one of the organizers behind the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The decision sparked outrage, as some users argued it lent too much authority to Kessler.