Twitter has decided to add its two cents to political discourse. This past week, gay British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos was the first person in the history of Twitter to have their ‘Verification’ badge stripped of their profile. On the surface, it seems like a rather petty issue — but upon delving further into the case, it appears to represent a greater problem that the platform has actively decided to create.
The website, known for allowing members of ISIS to not only post but recruit individuals, has opted to shift their attention to non-liberals (i.e. moderates, conservatives, libertarians…) Yiannopoulos, who has made a living out of exposing hypocrisy in social and political circles, noted that he thinks the unverification came as a result of a playful jab toward his friend @ComfortablySmug on Twitter. The tweet stated, “You deserve to be harassed, you social justice loser” — an obvious joke. Not long after, Yiannopoulos had his verification badge stripped in a transparent act of trying to humiliate the contrarian journalist.
It’s all rather silly. Yet, if you were to place the context on the average citizen, someone who wouldn’t have six digits worth of followers, there would be no badge to remove — and thus an immediate banning would occur. A social media platform, created to express opinions and thoughts, is effectively telling you how to think and speak.
Twitter announced on December 29th that the social media forum was taking strict measures to combat posts containing “abusive behavior and hateful conduct.” However there are still many tweets filled with racist bile, that call for the deaths of people, and accounts built around distributing nude photos of men and women without their consent. Yet Twitter has decided to put their foot down on politics.
On Friday night, Yiannopoulos posted a screenshot of the email he received from Twitter stating that his verification had been revoked. “I’ve been sat at the naughty table!” he tweeted.
Not long after his verification badge was removed, #JesuisMilo began trending on Twitte. It became the number one trend in the United States for that day.
Officials at Twitter haven’t offered an explanation as to why the badge was removed aside from Yiannopoulos ‘treading over the terms of service.’ Yiannopoulos said he contacted Twitter twice to get an idea of why the company was reacting and more specifically, what to. He received no reply.
Since his unverification, Yiannopoulos has gained roughly 20,000 new followers. If Twitter was looking to condemn the journalist and his behavior, they certainly failed.