Twitter appeared to bend over backwards to verify a new left-wing fact-checker soon after the account’s creation. But now, the account has been suspended.
Twitter had awarded a blue-check “verified” badge to an account called the Trusted Report Team, “@trteam_official.” The account had been verified despite not reaching even 200 followers, and it had just “Joined February 2021,” according to the account bio.
The account’s few tweets were swimming with leftist propaganda. One tweet claimed that Dr. Seuss drew “racist cartoons,” along with an article from Snopes. Snopes claimed that Seuss “had a history of creating cartoons featuring racist propaganda, and offensive caricatures of Black people, Asians, and Arabs. The Trusted Report Team also retweeted a post from the Southern Poverty Law Center that argued that “The Biden Admin must continue to push tech companies to consider policies limiting hate speech.”
“This account has a total of *10* followers, was just opened, and Twitter already verified it and it's pumping out false information already. This is there [sic] ‘fact-check.’ WaPo reported last week that Biden had reopened a facility to house kids that used shipping containers https://twitter.com/trteam_official/status/1366423436231274503,” tweeted Ryan Saavedra, a reporter for The Daily Wire. Saavedra also posted a screenshot of the now-defunct Trusted Report Team blog’s fact check on Biden reopening “‘cages’ in migrant detention facilities.”
Attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon provided a screenshot of the verified Trusted Report Team’s account with only five followers. “Hey @Twitter what is this one day old account that retweets Southern Poverty Law Center and has five followers doing with a blue check verification ?” asked Dhillon. “What is your process currently? Can any random with a computer get the same?”
As of the publishing of this blog, Twitter has not responded to an inquiry about how the Trusted Report Team’s account became verified. Accounts for “Companies, brands, and organizations” must meet at least two of three criteria in order to become verified, according to the Twitter Help Center:
- “presence in public indices, including but not limited to Google Trends, public stock exchanges, stable Wikipedia articles that meet the encyclopedia’s notability standards, and databases such as GlobalGiving;
- “3 or more featured references within the 6 months prior to applying in news outlets that meet the News criteria below; or
- “follower count in the top .1% of active accounts located in the same geographic region.”
At the top of Twitter’s Help Center article “About Verified Accounts,” a notice said, “Important: Please note that our verified account program is currently on hold. We are not accepting any new requests at this time, however we plan to make it possible to apply for a verified badge starting in 2021.”
Twitter’s verification process has seemingly been on hold since at least December 2020, according to the platform’s own statement. On Jan. 22, 2021 Twitter Support clarified: “Today, we're enforcing the new policy we launched in Dec 2020 - starting with automatically removing verification from inactive & incomplete accounts. We plan to launch the new process to apply for verification in the next couple of months.”
The Trusted Report Team’s account verification was as mysterious as its suspension. At the time of publishing, Twitter had not responded to an inquiry about the account’s suspension.
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