Social media platform Twitter has decided it will not verify the accounts of users running for 2020 office until they win their primary contests. Verification by Twitter allows a blue check mark to appear by the name of the user. I have one.
The policy, which a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill on Tuesday is a continuation of the tech giant’s practices in the 2018 midterms, is intended to recognize the seriousness a candidate receives by being verified. However, it comes amid warnings that foreign operatives have in the past sought to impersonate political candidates.
Recognize the seriousness? I thought the point of verification was that the user is who they say they are, not that they have received some kind of corporate “stamp of approval.”
“Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance,” the platform said at the time. Exactly, so why the change in policy?
“We appreciate that Twitter is an important tool for politicians to communicate to the electorate, and that verification is an important contextual signal for the public – which is why we’ve been very intentional and thoughtful about this policy,” the Twitter spokesperson told The Hill.
“While the public verification form is on hold, our teams around the world continue to verify select Twitter accounts, which include elected officials and government agencies. In the US, once candidates win their primary elections and/or qualify for the general election ballot for Congressional, Senate or Gubernatorial races we will verify their official Twitter accounts.”
How can candidates prevent (RUSSIAN?!?) trolls or troublemakers from impersonating them? That’s exactly what one Democrat party member fears.
“We are very troubled to hear that they’re unwilling to do it in the primary,” Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, who last month claimed a fake account was created to impersonate New Hampshire Democrats, told CNN. “They should know that they’re being used to disseminate misinformation and character assassination.”
Thankfully, Twitter assures that they have a policy against election interference.
“Our rules prohibit manipulating or interfering in the election process, including posting or sharing content that may suppress voter turnout or mislead people about when, where, or how to vote,” the spokesperson told The Hill.
“Our rules also now address key issues impacting the integrity of elections, including: (1) fake accounts engaged in a variety of malicious behaviors, (2) removing accounts that deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts we have previously suspended for violating our rules, and (3) the distribution of hacked material that contains private information or trade secrets, or could put people in harm’s way.”
(Photo Illustration by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)