Twitter will not authenticate the accounts of any new congressional or gubernatorial candidates on its platform ahead of the 2020 election cycle, unless they win their primaries.
The social media giant maintains the policy is a continuation of the rules it implemented in the 2018 midterms and changed its verification policy to
showcase the seriousness and formidable perception a candidate gains by being verified.
“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,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill.
Twitter argues prohibiting verification of new primary candidates is necessary to prevent foreign operatives from misusing the platform by impersonating political candidates.
“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.”
Twitter also argues its modifying its authentication rules for candidates prohibits “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. Again, regardless of verification status.”
Twitter suspended its “general verification” program in November 2017, claiming its system which hands out little blue and white check mark icons to the general public is broken. The decision came days after the platform, which admittedly bans and “shadow bans” conservatives, authenticated an account belonging to the man who organized a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“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.
CNN obtained emails between a staff member for Twitter’s government relations team and a congressional campaign staffer, revealing the social media giants decision to excluded new candidates from its’s verification system.
While its Twitter’s claims it modified its verification rule to prevent election interference, the platform has demonstrably weaponized its network as a tool to benefit left-leaning voices and Democrats.
Investigative journalist Laura Loomer, was banned from Twitter. After announcing her congressional bid last week, Loomer was trending #1 on the platform. It is not clear if Twitter will allow the new candidate’s campaign to use the platform.
In January 2018, Twitter consistently declined to authenticate then-senatorial candidate Roy Moore with a blue check mark, making it difficult for users to find Moore’s real account. However, Twitter verified the account of Moore’s Democratic opponent, Sen. Doug Jones.
Undercover footage exposed by investigative watchdog Project Veritas published in January 2018 features Twitter employees admitting on-camera that the platform has shadow banns its conservative users and employs algorithms to rid the platform of Trump supporters.
“Let’s say if it was a pro-Trump thing and I’m anti-Trump. I was like, I banned this whole account,” Mo Norai, a former content review agent for Twitter, admitted in the video.
He goes on to explain how Twitter’s “content reviews” are biased against conservatives.
“It goes to you, and then it’s at your discretion. And if you’re anti-Trump, you’re like, ‘oh you know what, Mo was right, f**k it, let it go’”
Employees confirm in the footage Twitter’s algorithms classify users as “Russian bots” if their content is too conservative or pro-Trump, and ban them off the platform.
The majority of their algorithms, Twitter employee Pranay Singh explained, are geared in such a manner that they target people with certain political views.
“I would say majority of it are for Republicans,” Singh said.