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Seth Rogen calls out Twitter CEO for verifying white supremacists – ANITH
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Seth Rogen calls out Twitter CEO for verifying white supremacists

Seth Rogen calls out Twitter CEO for verifying white supremacists

Seth Rogen is calling Twitter out for giving more than just a platform to white supremacists.

Image: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Seth Rogen is sick and tired of how Twitter has been dealing with the racists and white supremacists who plague the platform.

The actor called out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Tuesday in a public tweet.

Rogen says he’s been privately messaging Jack via Twitter for months, trying to figure out what the company has in mind when it verifies white supremacists on its platform.

Rogen’s conclusion? The CEO of Twitter doesn’t much care.

Twitter verifies notable users with a little blue checkmark next to their username. According to the company, “the blue verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic.” Along with the bragging rights of being verified come other benefits. For example, Twitter’s algorithm clearly favors verified users when ordering the replies to other tweets.

So, why is Twitter verifying white supremacists?

In November of 2017, Twitter became aware it had a verification problem when the company gave a blue checkmark to Jason Kessler, the organizer of the deadly Unite the Right neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Verified users on its platform gain a level of authority from the public. Being verified on Twitter didn’t just mean you are who you say you are. It was perceived by most who used the platform as an endorsement from Twitter: The verified users were important people. Even Twitter knew this.

After public outcry, Twitter released a statement announcing it was changing the verification rules and removing verified badges from any account “promoting hate and/or violence,” among other things. One specific update to the verification process included a rule claiming that Twitter would enforce its rules based not only on tweets, but also on users’ behavior off the platform.

We’re not sure if Seth Rogen was referring to a specific account— the actor was tweeting about a racist and anti-semitic meme posted on former Senator Ron Paul’s account one day earlier (Paul blamed it on a staffer) – or if Rogen was speaking generally about the issues. 

In any case, Twitter still clearly has a white supremacist problem. Aside from the slew of trolls and non-verified white supremacist accounts on the site, some of the more notable racists are still somehow getting around Twitter’s updated verification rules.

For instance, take Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, who split with his company in 2008. He’s a verified Twitter user. Vic Berger, a satirical video maker who has gone after Twitter white supremacists in his work, put together the video compilation below showcasing examples of how McInnes might be breaking Twitter’s rules. But, McInnes still has a verified badge.

This past weekend, McInnes’ group, Proud Boys, a far-right wing organization that proclaims themselves to be proud “Western chauvinists,” took part in an alt-right rally in Portland. Fights broke out at the rally after the groups marching were met by counter protesters and anti-fascists. Police intervened, declared that the rally had turned into a riot, and revoked the rally goers’ permit. The Proud Boys are verified on Twitter. Yet the SPLC has labeled the Proud Boys as a designated hate group.

Another test of the rule that Twitter considers off-platform actions when verifying Twitter users is Gab, “an ad-free social network” labeled by its founders as a “free speech network.” A quick visit to the site finds it almost solely populated by members of the racist alt-right who were actually banned on Twitter for their actions, including many white supremacists and open neo-Nazis. Gab is verified on Twitter.

Twitter has taken action before when prominent people point out abusive behavior that previously went unpunished. In 2016, Twitter banned Milo Yiannopoulos after he led a harassment campaign against Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones. Due to the barrage of harassment, the SNL star was forced to quit Twitter, which caused pretty much everyone against online harassment to rally behind her and demand Twitter take action.

However, judging by Seth Rogen’s recounting of his exchanges with Jack, maybe even the celebs can’t save Twitter from itself anymore.

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Anith Gopal
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