Earlier this week, Twitter verified Jason Kessler, the white nationalist and principal organizer behind the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one dead in August — and many people are unhappy about it.
Strictly speaking, Twitter verification is not an endorsement of views. According to the social media company’s own guidelines, the blue check simply means that an account “of public interest is authentic.”
But in practice, Twitter routinely uses the verification badge as a mark of legitimacy and is willing to withhold it from certain highly influential accounts of public interest — like Julian Assange.
A Twitter spokesperson did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Needless to say, the social media platform promptly exploded with news that Kessler had joined the exclusive club — particularly given some of Kessler’s tweets in the aftermath of the deadly demonstration in Charlottesville.
Kessler tweeted that the victim, Heather Heyer, “was a fat, disgusting Communist,” adding, “Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.” At the time, he also linked to an article from the Neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer.
Actor Michael Ian Black was particularly aggrieved.
Though he was hardly alone.
Kessler organized the largest white supremacist rally of my lifetime, and left 1 woman dead. He did it using Twitter https://t.co/ueETTkMAoT
– Matt Novak (@paleofuture) November 8, 2017
– Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) November 8, 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