The all-important “verified” blue tick on Twitter is, like so much else in life, hard won and easily lost.
Twitter is in the process of stripping white supremacists and far-right figures of their blue ticks on Twitter, because it said the blue ticks have come to resemble endorsement.
That now includes Tommy Robinson — real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon — the former leader of the English Defence League.
Robinson, who once described Islam as a “fascist” religion, is not happy, complaining that other controversial figures still retain their blue ticks. One example he gives is Ian Watkins, the former Lost Prophets frontman who is currently serving a prison sentence for multiple sexual offences against minors.
He also pointed to a Twitter account associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group which ruled in Egypt in 2012 and 2013, but is not considered a terrorist organisation by the UK government. Saudi Arabia and UAE have deemed the group a terrorist outfit.
According to Robinson, Twitter notified him on Wednesday that it was removing his verified badge permanently because his account didn’t confirm to its verification guidelines.
“The truth is now hate speech,” Robinson wrote.
Robinson is known for regularly espousing anti-Islam views which are often factually incorrect. For example, he has publicised the incorrect theory that the former US president Barack Obama was raised a Muslim.
And he boasted on Saturday of attending an anti-Islam march in Poland where, according to media reports, demonstrators could be heard shouting for a “Jew free” country.
Robinson isn’t the only controversial figure to lose his verified status: neo-Nazi Richard Spencer also lost his blue tick, as have other right-wing commentators.