Yesterday, Twitter issued new guidelines designed in part to combat hate speech. One of the most effective measures in the company’s disposal is cancelling the blue verification tick that, as the company itself admitted yesterday, gave users greater prominence on the platform. “Verification,” the company’s official account announced in a tweet, “has long been perceived as an endorsement. 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.” Among those who lost their blue ticks yesterday are white supremacist Richard Spencer and Tommy Robinson, founder of the far-right English Defence League.
Still verified, however, is Louis Farrakhan, who has 478,000 followers on Twitter and who continues to deliver wildly anti-Semitic sermons. Just yesterday, speaking to a packed room in a Washington, D.C. hotel, the Nation of Islam leader accused the Jews of nefariously oppressing black Americans for profit. “About 40 minutes into the talk,” the Washington Post reported, “an assistant brought out a large poster of a Jewish star and an advertisement for a decades-old Nation of Islam-published book subtitled ‘How Jews Gained Control of the Black American Economy.’ The poster stood beside Farrakhan for the rest of the talk.”
It was hardly Farrakhan’s first or most incendiary anti-Semitic comment. Frequently referring to Jews as “Satanic” and claiming that they control most industries and many nations with their secret cabal, Farrakhan has described Adolf Hitler as “a very great man” and has repeatedly argued that the 9/11 attacks were a Jewish conspiracy.
Gays and lesbians are another favorite target of Farrakhan, who repeatedly states that homosexuality is sinful and must be dealt with harshly.
You can read Twitter’s new policy for yourself here. It specifically states that the company reserves the right to deny a user his or her verified status if he or she is found to be “Promoting hate and/or violence against, or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. Supporting organizations or individuals that promote the above.” Few fit the description better than Farrakhan, and Twitter should not allow him the privilege of a verified status for even one day more.