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Twitter Updates Account Verification Policy, Removes Badges From White Supremacists

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Recently, Twitter Inc. TWTR announced an update to its account verification policy whereby the company removed the authentication status of some of its users. The company declared that the blue checkmarks will be removed without any intimation from profiles that promote violence, hatred and harassment.

Per the new policy outlined by Twitter, a user may lose verification status in case a change in the settings of a profile leads to a change in the "account's original purpose."

As part of the move, the company removed the badges of white supremacist Jason Kessler and Richard Spenceras well as alt-right activists Laura Loomer, James Allsup and Tommy Robinson. Twitter also banned Tim Gionet who is popularly known as Baked Alaska on the platform.

The Blue Checkmark

Twitter rolled out the feature for all users on the platform in July 2016. Before that, the feature was limited only to "public figures, brands, and people in media, politics, sports, business, and other high-profile sectors", per The Verge.

Back then Twitter's vice president of user services, Tina Bhatnagar had said, "We want to make it even easier for people to find creators and influencers on Twitter so it makes sense for us to let people apply for verification."

However, the company faced immense criticisms for implementing the authentication policy. Earlier this month, Twitter was criticized for verifying Jason Kessler's profile who had organized the Charlottesville rally in August.

Per its latest tweets, "Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance."

Responding to criticisms for verifying the accounts, the company tweeted that, "We gave verified accounts visual prominence on the service which deepened this perception. We should have addressed this earlier but did not prioritize the work as we should have."

Focus on Curbing Malicious Use

Twitter, Facebook FB and Alphabet's GOOGL Google have been under tremendous pressure to contain dissemination of extremist ideas on their platforms. Since the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, these companies have faced severe criticism for spreading fake news that allegedly influenced election results.

Twitter revealed that it had found over 200 accounts related to Russian factors/bot network. In September, Twitter took strong steps to fight terrorism by suspending accounts linked with terrorism on its platform. From August 2015 to June 2017, Twitter suspended 935,897 accounts in a bid to curb the spread of extremism propaganda, which plagued its service.

Last month, the company also announced that it will provide users with more detailed information regarding advertisements made on the platform, more specifically the political and issue-based ones.

We believe that such steps will help the company battle extensive PR damage.

Zacks Rank and Share Price Movement

At present, Twitter carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Shares of Twitter have gained 22.2% year to date, underperforming the industry's 29.1% rally.

Key Pick

A top-ranked stock in the broader technology sector is NVIDIA Corporation NVDA, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth rate for NVIDIA is currently projected to be 11.2%

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The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

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