Twitter Is Using Account Verification To Stifle Leaks And Promote War Propaganda

I stumbled across an article in my newsfeed a few minutes ago titled “Julian Assange Says Clinton Campaign Manager Podesta Had 7,300 Child Porn Images”, from an outlet called Hub Pages. The article, archived here, does not have a visible social media share tally or a page view count so I can’t comment on how much it’s been circulated, but I can’t be the only one whose newsfeed it wound up on.

To support its central claim, this clickbait article cited a tweet from the Twitter handle @Real_Assange, which as of this writing currently has 2,541 retweets and 3,467 likes.

 

@Real_Assange is deliberately set up to be indistinguishable from @JulianAssange, which is Assange’s actual Twitter account, complete with the same profile pic, the same page banner, the same bio, and the same absence of a blue checkmark badge indicating that the account has been verified by Twitter staff as the authentic account of a high-profile user. Twitter reports that it authenticates accounts which are “determined to be an account of public interest. Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.”

Whatever your opinion of him and his work, Julian Assange is indisputably a character of high public interest in many of those fields. @JulianAssange has been independently confirmed to belong to Assange by the verified WikiLeaks Twitter account, and Twitter themselves openly acknowledged that they are aware that @JulianAssange is Assange’s account. They know it’s him, they simply refuse to verify him. And to this day they refuse to make any public statement as to why.

 


Twitter Is Using Account Verification To Stifle Leaks And Promote War Propaganda

I stumbled across an article in my newsfeed a few minutes ago titled “Julian Assange Says Clinton Campaign Manager Podesta Had 7,300 Child Porn Images”, from an outlet called Hub Pages. The article, archived here, does not have a visible social media share tally or a page view count so I can’t comment on how much it’s been circulated, but I can’t be the only one whose newsfeed it wound up on.

To support its central claim, this clickbait article cited a tweet from the Twitter handle @Real_Assange, which as of this writing currently has 2,541 retweets and 3,467 likes.

@Real_Assange is deliberately set up to be indistinguishable from @JulianAssange, which is Assange’s actual Twitter account, complete with the same profile pic, the same page banner, the same bio, and the same absence of a blue checkmark badge indicating that the account has been verified by Twitter staff as the authentic account of a high-profile user. Twitter reports that it authenticates accounts which are “determined to be an account of public interest. Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.”

Whatever your opinion of him and his work, Julian Assange is indisputably a character of high public interest in many of those fields. @JulianAssange has been independently confirmed to belong to Assange by the verified WikiLeaks Twitter account, and Twitter themselves openly acknowledged that they are aware that @JulianAssange is Assange’s account. They know it’s him, they simply refuse to verify him. And to this day they refuse to make any public statement as to why.

@Real_Assange — which tweets talking points more in alignment with a garden variety Trump supporter than the nuanced anti-establishment ideas put forward in Assange’s real account — is not the only Assange impostor. There’s also @JulianAssange_ , which currently has nearly as many followers as the real account, as well as many other lower-profile variations on Assange’s name. These fake accounts are routinely mistaken for the real one by casual social media users due to the lack any verified Julian Assange account existing on Twitter. This causes confusion, obfuscates Assange’s voice, and interferes with his ability to get his message out to people who’d like to hear it.

The most damaging aspect of Twitter’s refusal to verify Assange’s account, however, is that it greatly impedes his ability to amass followers. Without doing some research it can be hard for a casual user to know which account is the real one if they’re not dissuaded altogether by the lack of a verification badge, and, more importantly, people who are likely to be interested in following Assange don’t receive notifications suggesting him as a follow.

So Twitter is knowingly putting its foot on the brakes of Assange’s Twitter presence, which is a politically biased action just as outrageous as if they’d refused to verify a world-famous liberal or conservative pundit or politician. You will never, ever see Twitter refusing to verify a popular pundit from MSNBC or Fox, though, or any other powerful media corporation that toes the establishment line.

 

What makes this even more unacceptable are the types of accounts that Twitter does validate. I’m not just talking about how they’ll verify a nobody media consultant in LA or some schmuck who came in ninth on Survivor a decade ago, but about the fact that they’ll even verify a blatant, deceitful war psy-op posing as a child’s Twitter account.

 

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View story at Medium.com

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