Twitter grants UK far-right party Britain First ‘official organization’ label

Britain First leader Paul Golding leads an anti-Islam march on April 1, 2017 in London, England.
Wiktor Szymanowicz | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Twitter labeled the British far-right political party Britain First an “official organization,” raising questions about the direction in which Elon Musk has taken the platform after its content moderation and verification overhaul.

Britain First now gets a gold checkmark on the social media site — a symbol that costs $1,000 a month and is reserved for businesses and non-profit organizations. When clicking on the checkmark, a textbox shows the message: “This account is verified because it’s an official organization on Twitter.”

Britain First is a nationalist political party in the U.K. that campaigns against multiculturalism and what it sees as the Islamification of the U.K. Its leader Paul Golding, who was previously a member of the neo-Nazi National First party, has been involved in numerous controversies over the years, including provocative behavior at several mosques.

Britain First, Gold and Deputy Leader Jada Fransen were suspended by Twitter in 2017 for violating its rules against hate speech. All three have since had their accounts reinstated.

CNBC has reached out to Britain First for comment.

On April 20, about 400,000 legacy-verified Twitter accounts lost their blue checkmarks as part of Musk’s drive to gain the platform more money from subscriptions. Individual users must pay $8 for a membership with Twitter Blue, which gives them features such as the blue tick and the ability to edit tweets. Meanwhile, organizations can pay north of $1,000 per month for verifying their accounts and individual accounts affiliated with them with the gold tick.

In a surprise reversal from Twitter’s legacy verified purge, multiple celebrities had their blue checks restored over the weekend. Musk revealed that he personally paid for some, including for writer Stephen King, actor William Shatner and basketball star LeBron James.

Twitter also has a separate, grey checkmark for government accounts — U.S. President Joe Biden, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and French President Emmanuel Macron each have grey checkmarks. This feature is unpaid.

Brands fled Twitter advertising en masse in the wake of Musk’s $44 billion deal, which was completed in October 2022, expressing concern about the app failing to tackle hateful posts. Musk styles himself as a “free speech absolutist” and says that he wants to encourage free expression on Twitter.

News organizations have also quit the platform over concerns that it is undermining their credibility. Musk’s Twitter had marked the accounts of several media outlets, including NPR, the BBC and CBC as “state-affiliated,” a designation that alarmed executives and journalists at the organizations.

In response to those labels, NPR and CBC announced they would stop using Twitter in an official capacity to disseminate reporting. Twitter quietly dropped those government-funded media labels on Friday.

– CNBC’s Rohan Goswami contributed to this report

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