MINNEAPOLIS– Despite claiming that it authenticates accounts that are “determined to be an account of public interest,” Twitter has continuously refused to authenticate the accounts of some well-known public figures, particularly those who push against mainstream and government narratives.
The most well-known victim of Twitter’s essential weaponization of its account verification policy is Julian Assange, founder of the publishing organization WikiLeaks. Assange’s Twitter account, @JulianAssange, has been confirmed by WikiLeaks as his authentic personal account, a fact Twitter itself even acknowledged when it referenced the authentic Assange account in its own writings.
Assange has attempted to have his account verified since last October, but has repeatedly had his authentication request denied, despite Twitter’s “unofficial” admission that they know that @JulianAssange is the authentic account. Twitter has refused to issue a public statement as to why Assange’s account remains unverified.
While the verified account situation may seem minuscule compared to other issues that Assange currently faces, it has still had negative consequences nonetheless. The lack of verification on Assange’s account, in particular, has led to the proliferation of a slew of fake Assange accounts. As journalist Caitlin Johnstone notes, these fake accounts are commonly mistaken by casual social media users as being Assange’s real account due to the lack of verification.
Not only that, but some of the fake accounts actively post on popular tweets, claiming to be the real Assange and causing further confusion while also discrediting Assange. Many of those accounts have been reported, but Twitter has not taken any action against them. Not only that, but the lack of verification makes it more difficult for Assange to get his opinions to a wider audience, as the lack of verification makes it difficult for him to amass followers.
While Assange is certainly the most prominent public figure to be repeatedly denied account verification, he is not alone. Former U.S. Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has also spoken out regarding Twitter’s refusal to verify her account. McKinney is a well-known critic of U.S. imperialism and war propaganda, as well as a prominent voice in the 9/11 Truth Movement. She has over 25,000 Twitter followers.
Yeah, neither Twitter nor FB verified me! https://t.co/E38ShQIvaU
— Cynthia McKinney PhD (@cynthiamckinney) July 15, 2017
Twitter has turned its authentication of popular accounts into a weapon, allowing it limit the Twitter presence of those who do not toe the establishment line. Twitter does not treat pundits from MSNBC or Fox News the same way it treats Assange and McKinney, making it clear that this is a politically-biased stance on the part of the social network.
However, this is by no means the first time that Twitter has come under fire for discriminating against popular users over their political leanings. Twitter’s launch last year of the “Twitter Trust and Safety Council” came complete with a group known as the “Dangerous Speech Project” that shares ties with the liberal John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as well as George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Not a single conservative-leaning group is found on the council, which includes over 40 member groups.