Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Shame Twitter Into Stripping Pizzagater’s Verified Badge

Photo: AP

Model Chrissy Teigen and singer John Legend got themselves
dragged into the stupidest possible controversy this weekend
when self-proclaimed “investigative journalist” and far-right
activist Liz
Crokin
, who Twitter in their unending wisdom had decided to
give a verified account, accused them of involvement in the
debunked “Pizzagate” scandal.

On Saturday, Teigen posted that she was “pretty disturbed” at
how quickly Crokin’s unfounded accusation that the celebrity
couple was trafficking their child in a satanic D.C. pedophile
ring had spread on the site. She specifically called out
Twitter for handing a verified badge to Crokin, whose entire
account seems devoted to accusing random people of sexually
abusing children.

“Thank you, Twitter, for verifying somebody who is essentially
accusing me (with pictures of my daughter) of child abuse and
pedophilia to their 50,000 followers,” Teigen wrote.

Legend also joined in to threaten a lawsuit and warn one of the
conspiracy theorists that “Y’all almost got someone killed,”
referencing an incident in 2016 when a gunman who believed
Pizzagate was real
stormed and shot up
a D.C.-area pizza restaurant.

Crokin later posted that Twitter had removed her verified
badge, and several of the other Pizzagaters involved seem to
have been subsequently banned or deleted their accounts after
Teigen and Legend drew attention to them.

Twitter is still trying to dig itself out from under
the mess it created
with its verified accounts feature,
which saw the site hand out fancy-looking badges to large
numbers of people including a not-insignificant number of
trolls,
white supremacists
, and conspiracy theorists. The site
originally pitched it as a way to prevent impersonation, but
over time it became clear that the badge was a sort of tacit
Twitter endorsement of power users. Twitter has
begun to backtrack
and remove badges from offending
accounts, but there’s still no clear solution coming.

Incidents like these certainly haven’t helped Twitter fight its
reputation as a haven for
harassment and bullying
, or suspicions that it quietly
tolerates such behavior in service of better metrics. Earlier
this year, former employees close to Twitter’s product team

told BuzzFeed
the site was “basically built for maximum
ease of trolling” and “a honeypot for assholes.” And while
Twitter controversies like these may seem sort of dumb, they’re
very unpleasant for users on the receiving end—and for every
Teigen or Legend on the site, there’s a lot more people who
don’t happen to be powerful celebrities having a bad time.

[Billboard]

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