UPDATE: Just weeks after CEO Jack Dorsey said Twitter would eliminate “hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that [glorify] violence,” the online platform verified the account of white supremacist Jason Kessler, the man behind the Charlottesville rally who later used Twitter to celebrate the death of counter-protester Heather Hayer.
Immediately after the fact, countless Twitter users and others harshly criticized the company. The backlash was so overwhelming that Twitter has suspended its verification process, claiming it is “broken” and needs restructuring.
Despite the move, Kessler’s account, the one that prompted the outrage in the first place, remains verified.
Instead of following its own guidelines and shutting down his account due to the user’s affiliation with hateful groups, Twitter is simply glossing over the issue and targeting only the verification process.
And what’s worse, the company continues to block users for “inoffensive or sarcastic” tweets, as Uproxx argues, while giving individuals like Kessler a platform to spread hate.
How long will it take for Twitter to clean up its act?
Mere days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced an aggressive stance against “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups and tweets that glorifies violence,” the social media site went on to verify the account of white supremacist who organized the deadly Charlottesville rally.
Jason Kessler, the man credited with the violent “Unite the Right” march that resulted in three deaths, including anti-racism activist Heather Heyer, who died after an alleged white nationalist plowed his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters.
At the time, Kessler made headlines for tweeting (then deleting) how Heyer’s death was “payback time” and insulted her by referring to her “a fat, disgusting Communist.” Even alt-right leader Richard Spencer tried to distance himself from Kessler following the comments.
“I will no longer associate w/ Jason Kessler; no one should,” Spencer wrote on social media. “Heyer’s death was deeply saddening. ‘Payback’ is a morally reprehensible idea.”
While Spencer himself is no stranger to making “morally reprehensible” remarks, Kessler’s words were indeed disgusting.
Kessler also made headlines after a group of activists swarmed him while he attempted to hold a news conference, and he ended up being punched in the face.
Now, he has a proud check mark stamped right next to his profile picture, which is below his banner image displaying a Confederate flag.
How in the world could one denounce hate symbols and hate groups while simultaneously verifying — thus giving credibility to — a notorious neo-Nazi?
As The Daily Beast reported, Kessler received the badge on Tuesday. With all the talk about making the platform a safe space and cracking down on hate, Twitter’s latest move does not make much sense.
“Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter,” Kessler tweeted. “I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction.”
Along with being a hate-mongering racist xenophobe, Kessler is also a writer for right-wing websites Daily Caller, GotNews and VDARE, according to his Twitter bio.
According to Twitter’s verification info page, “an account may be verified if it is determined to be an account of public interest.”
A number of online users have slammed the social media giant for verifying Kessler.
TWITTER: We’ve been working intensely...— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 9, 2017
*increases character limit to 280*
To take a more aggressive stance in our rules...
*verifies domestic terrorist Jason Kessler*
Hate symbols, violent groups, & tweets that glorifies violence...
*begs Russia to invest millions in ads*
Hi @Twitter,— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) November 9, 2017
Hope you realize there's no such thing as being neutral when it comes to Nazis. Verifying Jason Kessler is a political act -- and one that puts you on the wrong side of history. https://t.co/VlvDaMwQO3
Twitter has verified Jason Kessler, the white supremacist organizer of the Charlottesville rally. The message is clear. Hate groups will roam free on this platform. Shameful. pic.twitter.com/C3tLOoRq50— Sean Kent (@seankent) November 9, 2017
Twitter limited my account before because they said that I "offended the Twitter Community" but today Twitter gave "verified" status to racist fanatic Jason Kessler who said Heather Heyer "was a fat, disgusting Communist” and that her death “was payback time." Twitter Shame! @AP— Mr. Reynolds (@melreynoldsU) November 9, 2017
Hey @jack: very active user, 2.1M followers here: this is disgusting. Verifying white supremacists reinforces the increasing belief that your site is a platform for hate speech. I don't want to give up Twitter, but I may have to. Who do you value more, users like me or him? https://t.co/5ymcNfFvH0— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) November 9, 2017
Oh wait my bad @jack my bad. Nazis are ok for another couple weeks. I’ll follow-up w/you about your verification of Jason Kessler, known Nazi & organizer of rallies that end in murder, on the 22nd. pic.twitter.com/qyprrCRWYq— Feminist Porg Queen (@missykaybm) November 8, 2017
A day after @Twitter verifies Jason Kessler, who created the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, he tweets "Rose McGowan should be held accountable for being a thot that will do anything for attention." pic.twitter.com/tAWBu79IfQ— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) November 8, 2017
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Kacper Pempel