For better or for worse, Twitter has decided to embark on a mission to revoke its famous blue checkmarks from accounts operated by people it deems racist or hateful. Oddly absent from the purge, though, is controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Even the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center describes Farrakhan as an “anti-Semite who routinely accuses Jews of manipulating the U.S. government and controlling the levers of world power.” Alas, he apparently doesn’t meet the threshold for Twitter de-verification:
— Banned from the Gadsden Mall (@HashtagGriswold) November 16, 2017
On Wednesday evening, the social media platform removed its blue checkmark from white nationalist Richard Spenser and Jason Kessler, the organizer behind the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the summer, USA Today reported.
“Verification has long been perceived as an endorsement,” Twitter said in a statement. “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 website noted it’s “conducting an initial review of verified accounts and will remove verification from accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines.”
Neither Kessler nor Spenser was happy about being de-verified Wednesday:
Twitter has changed their verification policy just to be able to censor me. Several other accounts were unverified including Richard Spencer and James Allsup while Baked Alaska was permanently suspended altogether. pic.twitter.com/PO1QnJC2C6
— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) November 15, 2017
Verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly White? ??♂️
— Richard ? Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) November 15, 2017
Twitter also revoked far-right extremist Laura Loomer’s verification badge. She said the site did so just because she’s “conservative”:
Twitter just emailed me to tell me they are removing my “verified badge” because they claim my account “doesn’t comply with Twitter’s guidelines for verified accounts.”
Translation: I’m a conservative. pic.twitter.com/F1AsxWI6Fm
— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) November 15, 2017
While I don’t necessarily see the blue verification badge as an endorsement, apparently Twitter sees it that way. And that’s fine — it’s a private business, so its leaders can address the issue however they please.
But if they’re going to target far-right radicals, they should equally condemn far-left radicals, like Farrakhan.
In 1998, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Muslim leader said, “The Jews have been so bad at politics they lost half their population in the Holocaust. They thought they could trust in Hitler, and they helped him get the Third Reich on the road.”
And in 1995, per the San Francisco Chronicle, Farrakhan described Jews as “bloodsuckers” who “owned the homes, the apartments and stores in the black community.”
“They took from our community and built their community but didn’t offer anything back to our community,” he said at the time.
The list of anti-Semitic and hateful remarks Farrakhan has made is long and storied. He’s targeted white people, whom he said in 2016 are “worthy to be hated.” He’s also called white people “a race of devils,” according to The New Republic.
Certainly racism — in all its disgraceful forms — should be shunned. So why has Twitter allowed a man like Farrakhan to remain verified, while it’s condemned other users whose hateful remarks are equally as vile?
If Twitter’s leaders are going to go down this road, they should at least be honest about it.