Attempt to Get James O’Keefe Verified On Twitter
On July 19, 2016, Twitter announced it had created an online application process for Twitter accounts to become verified. On July 20, 2016, undercover journalist James O’Keefe applied for his Twitter account to be verified. On August 5, 2016, Twitter sent James O’Keefe the following message regarding his Twitter verification application. He was denied verification.
“Thanks for your request to verify @JamesOKeefeIII,” read the rejection email. “We reviewed the account, and unfortunately it is not eligible to be verified at this time. Please visit our Help Center for more information about the types of accounts we verify.”
James O’Keefe’s verification denial was confusing since Twitter had announced the following, “An account may be verified if it is determined to be of public interest. Typically, this includes accounts maintained by public figures and organizations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media [emphasis added], sports, business, and other key interest areas.”
O’Keefe is a leading voice in investigative journalism and modern media. He has 80,000 followers on Twitter and is a prominent figure within the right of center movement. Based on Twitter’s definition, O’Keefe’s account clearly should have been verified.
In addition to being a public figure, an additional reason O’Keefe desired the account verification is because his account has been impersonated numerous times and several individuals have attempted to hack his Twitter account.
O’Keefe is the founder and president of Project Veritas. Project Veritas’ request for Twitter verification was denied, as well.
What Does It Mean to Be Verified On Twitter?
According to Twitter, “Users who are verified on Twitter have a blue verified badge on Twitter that lets people know that their account is authentic. The blue check mark appears next to the name on a user’s profile and next to the user’s name in the search results.”
Unverified accounts do not have a blue check mark, indicating that they may not be “authentic” accounts.
Twitter may also revoke a verified status. Twitter’s terms of service states that some reasons an account might lost verification include profile information (such as the username) is changed, or the account’s original purpose has changed or a privacy settings change.
A high-profile example of Twitter removing an individual’s verification status was when conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos was de-verified for what many called being too politically incorrect. Most people within the conservative movement viewed this is a war on free speech and feel that the de-verification tool has been developed into an anti-free speech weapon.
It is interesting to note that Milo Yiannopoulos went from being verified, to de-verified, to suspended, to completely banned on Twitter, causing users to launch a social media campaign called #FreeMilo.
Another example of Twitter using it’s verified user guidelines process as a weapon was seen through the account suspension of conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain, whose suspicion triggered the social media campaign #FreeStacy.
Twitter’s War on Conservatives
There is strong reason to believe that the reason O’Keefe was not verified on Twitter is because he is identified as a leading conservative voice.
There are many examples of other less prominent individuals in journalism with verified accounts and there are examples of other prominent conservatives who have not been verified, presumably because they are conservative.
Alan Colmes is a political commentator and radio host who has attacked O’Keefe before. He has 42.4 thousand Twitter followers, roughly half of what O’Keefe has. However, Colmes has a verified Twitter account. He also happens to be liberal.
At a developer conference last October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey committed to freedom of expression, stating that “Twitter stands for speaking truth to power.”
“If Twitter was truly sincere about speaking truth to power, Project Veritas would have been the first organization in the country to obtain verification,” said O’Keefe.