Trump Twitter
  • Twitter announced Tuesday it's relaunching its public application program for verified status, marked by a blue check.
  • The program was paused in 2017 after Twitter granted the verified blue check-mark to one of the organisers of the white supremacist Charlottesville rally, sparking outrage.
  • Twitter has now proposed a set of new policies for the program, which include the possibility that accounts have their blue check-marks taken away if they repeatedly break Twitter's rules.
  • This means President Donald Trump, who will in January lose his "world leader" protections for rule violations in January, could be in danger of losing his verified status if he continues to tweet the way he has done in the past.
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Twitter is rebooting its verification system, and the proposed new guidelines could see persistent rule-breakers stripped of their coveted blue check-marks.

Twitter gives "verified" status to selected accounts belonging to public figures and organisations, signified by a blue check mark next to their account name. The system has been on ice for three years, but the company announced Tuesday its application process for verified status would relaunch in early 2021.

The company is asking for user feedback on proposed new rules before it officially relaunches next year. The proposals include clearer rules on exactly who is eligible for a blue check — but they also contain a threat. Verified accounts could lose their blue checks if they repeatedly break Twitter's rules.

This puts the Twitter account of President Donald Trump in a precarious position.

At the moment, even if Trump posts material that breaks Twitter's rules, he is protected by his "world leaders" status. Twitter says accounts with this status are newsworthy, and so users should be able to see their tweets even if they break its rules.

Trump has broken Twitter's rules before. In May, he tweeted about the Minneapolis George Floyd protests, saying "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Twitter placed this behind a click-through block, notifying users the tweet broke its rules on "glorifying violence."

Since the election, the platform has also placed numerous tweets from Trump behind click-through blocks for breaking its rules on election integrity. For example, it applied a block to a 5 November tweet from Trump claiming "ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!" 

Twitter has confirmed that once Trump hands over to Joe Biden at Biden's inauguration on 20 January, he will lose his "world leader" protections.

This means that if Trump continues to tweet with the same abandon he's employed during his presidency, Twitter could both take away his blue check mark and potentially boot him off the platform altogether.

Twitter said in a blog post that its new policy "will lay the foundation for future improvements by defining what verification means, who is eligible for verification and why some accounts might lose verification to ensure the process is more equitable."

Twitter's public verification program was put in hold in 2017 after the platform granted verified status to Jason Kessler, one of the organisers behind the white supremacist Charlottesville rally. The decision sparked outrage, as some users argued it lent too much authority to Kessler.

"Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it," Twitter said at the time.

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