After I finished Clare’s article, Kevin asked me if I could write another post, about the issues he’s been having with Twitter. I agreed, and started researching Twitter and their verification process to see if I can shield a bit of light on the situation.
Ever since Kevin Healey has been on Twitter, tweeting thousands of followers about autism activism and campaigns, he has had nothing but abuse from trolls. He himself is on the autistic spectrum, and finds it difficult to communicate. Trolls have been cloning his account, and impersonating him, saying vile obscene things that he himself would never even dream of saying. It’s caused him a lot of grief, and it just gets worse by the day.
So, to try and combat the issue, he asks Twitter to verify his account. They refused. Here is some information I pulled from Twitters FAQ page about verification.
“Verification is currently used to establish authenticity of key individuals and brands on Twitter.
Twitter verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find out who they’re looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, religion, journalism, media, sports, businesses and other key interest areas. We are constantly updating requirements for verification.”
I underlined the last bit, as that is key to the whole situation, as well as the part at the beginning.
Verification is used by Twitter, in order to prove to the general public using the social media site that the person or brand they are following is actually the legitimate source, and not just someone making it up or trolling.
So, why will Twitter refuse to verify Kevin, an autism activist?
Obviously, he fits into the criteria of being a key person (Twitter has verified other political activists on the site), with a key interest, activism. However, Twitter feels that as Kevin isn’t a celebrity, a famous activist or a brand they can make money off, that there is no need to verify him whatsoever. Despite his MP, his MEP emailing Twitter on Kevin’s behalf, and thousands of people signing his petition on Change.org (will link it at the bottom), Twitter are adamant that Kevin’s Twitter won’t be verified. You might say, ‘oh, why doesn’t he just delete his Twitter account and save all the trouble?’
a) The trolls will have won their battle to frighten, harass and intimidate Kevin
b) Without Twitter, he would struggle to connect with the people that he would need to in order to help others like him on the autistic spectrum to have a better life.
Like most people on the autistic spectrum, Kevin struggles to communicate to the outside world about his ambitions, passions and ideas. Twitter and other social media gives him a much needed voice and audience to tell the world how it is, and what can be done to make life better. Don’t let Twitter, or the trolls silence him.
Sign the petition here: