Since 2009, Twitter has added a blue checkmark symbol to certain accounts that have been deemed “verified,” which means “that an account of public interest is authentic,” according to Twitter.
For some, the verified distinction is coveted. For others, it’s become a dirty word.
“Verifieds” or “blue checks” are the elite, the establishment. Since many members of the media are verified, they have also become associated, for some, with the perceived liberal bias of the fourth estate. Conservatives, alt-righters, and Donald Trump fans have noticed that when Trump tweets, there is invariably a flood of “blue check liberals” responding in a negative way.
Hot new take from some random blue check mark underneath a Trump post. More news at 11.— Honkimus Maximus🎷🍆 (@Maximus_Honkmus) March 27, 2017
For example, a March 29 tweet by Trump about “how viciously and inaccurately [his] administration is covered by certain media” elicited a number of responses from verified users with the overwhelming majority taking the opportunity to make fun of him. X Tech Ventures CEO Rob Szczerba joked that Trump would announce that hedgehogs killed the dinosaurs, Guardian computer editor Jack Schofield told him to stop lying and referred to him as an “incompetent assclown,” and Ponder founder William LeGate used a classic Trump tweet construction to prod him about his current approval ratings.
@SilverShiruba— Monarchist Autist (@monarch_autist) March 19, 2017
Trump: I don't like Communism
Blue Check Lib: YOU JUST TRIGGERED MY TRAP CARD!
@PrisonPlanet@KEEMSTAR@DanScavino@realDonaldTrump@williamlegate@DonaldJTrumpJr Seriously, every blue-check liberal on Twitter that does this to Trump tweets needs to be blocked. They do this to hide positive replies— John Vincente (@JohnVincente) March 29, 2017
There is also the perception that Twitter, a California company, is biased toward liberals. In early 2016, when claims began cropping up that Twitter was removing verification from and “silencing” conservative voices — the most notable of which being Milo Yiannopoulos, who lost his verification for abusive behavior, though he alleged it was due to his conservative leanings.
"OK so Obama was surveilling Trump but that doesn't vindicate Trump for saying Obama was surveilling him."— J Burton (@JBurtonXP) March 22, 2017
Blue Check Mark Twitter pic.twitter.com/RGDeDWRJKn
Yiannopoulos was eventually banned for directing a harassment campaign against Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones. @YoungDems4Trump summarizes this viewpoint with a series of tweets suggesting there is a conspiracy to feature verified users, who are allegedly more liberal than not, in replies to the likes of Trump.
Hey, has anyone seen a blue-check MSM journalist outraged over CA prosecuting investigative reporters?— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) March 29, 2017
Twitter has banned other prominent alt-right voices, including Chuck Johnson, a political blogger known for falsely accusing others, and white nationalist Richard Spencer. Though Spencer eventually regained his account — and verification — Johnson remains banned. Spencer had been “temporarily suspended” due to using “multiple accounts with overlapping uses” whereas Johnson was banned for soliciting donations to “take out” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson.
Haven't seen much Blue Check Mark outrage about this... https://t.co/NxDQNAeXWw— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 29, 2017
To better understand how verification became an insult, I reached out to Twitter user @jejfarmer about a particularly barbed tweet that included the phrase “Someone get this cuck a verified check!” Their answer is pretty clear on the source of the anger.
They give checks to literal who nobodies such as yourself as long as you have the right SJW opinions. Yet they ban most right wing content. https://t.co/cS3UMiuScQ— Jayquan (@jejfarmer) March 30, 2017
They went on to clarify that the verified badges create a “pseudo caste system” that overwhelmingly supports “SJW” media while the likes of former KKK leader David Duke remain unverified. “Lügenpresse,” if you’re not familiar, is a German Nazi term that translates to “lying press.”
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.