Jason Kessler, who organized the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left one dead, now has a blue checkmark next to his name on Twitter.
That’s because Kessler is now “verified,” meaning that his name may be one of the first to appear when searching through Twitter, likely amplifying his voice on the social media site, as noted by the Washington Examiner.
But why is Kessler now verified — and how does Twitter decide who receives that sought-after blue checkmark of validation?
You can submit a request for verification to Twitter, which says the blue badge “lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic.” That’s so famous people, like politicians and high-profile actors, don’t have to worry about others impersonating them online.
But, as Twitter, notes, “a verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter.”
There are other “common characteristics” of verified accounts that Twitter lays out, including if an account uses the real name of a person or company, an image on the account reflects a person or company or a person’s Twitter bio lists their profession.
And Kessler seems to match much of that criteria on his account, which uses his real name and the handle @TheMadDimension. His bio says he is a freelance journalist for publications like the Daily Caller, he uses a picture of himself on his account and, after planning the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville that brought clashes between white supremacists and protesters, Kessler is arguably of “public interest.”
He took to Twitter on Nov. 7 to celebrate earning that blue checkmark.
At first, people reacted with anger on Kessler’s celebratory tweet.
Yet others began to ask: Just why did Twitter verify Kessler, who tweeted Tuesday night that “large swathes of (Virginia) have no recognizable Americans; look like a third world bazaar” after voters in the state elected Democrat Ralph Northam as governor.
As many noted, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted last month that the social media site would “take a more aggressive stance” in enforcing rules against “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence.”
But this decision contradicts that, wrote Monique Judge. “Twitter just validated everything (Kessler) says by giving him that blue checkmark after his name,” Judge wrote for The Root. “Twitter is directly enabling white supremacy and white nationalist ideology.”
The “Unite The Right” rally, originally planned to protest the removal of a state of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, turned deadly when a car mowed down a group of protesters, injuring 19 and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Shortly after the rally, Kessler tried to crowdfund money online to fund a suit against the city of Charlottesville, which he said violated the constitutional rights of his fellow demonstrators.
About a week later, Kessler tweeted “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time,” before linking to the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He deleted the tweet, first claiming he had been hacked, the LA Times reported, then blaming his use of prescription drugs.
“I repudiate the heinous tweet that was sent from my account last night. I’ve been under a crushing amount of stress & death threats,” he tweeted, according to the LA Times, before temporarily deleting his Twitter. “I’m taking ambien, xanax and I had been drinking last night. I sometimes wake up having done strange things I can’t remember.”
Kessler, with around 13,400 followers on Twitter, lasted tweeted out a poll Wednesday asking his followers “Is it okay to be white?” So far they are split, 53 percent yes, 47 percent no.