Twitter has verified the account of Jason Kessler, the organiser of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August that left one person dead and dozens injured. The 34-year-old white nationalist's account received the coveted blue verified check mark on Tuesday (7 November), the Daily Beast first reported.
Kessler deleted his Twitter account in August after his controversial tweet about Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed while protesting against his "Unite the Right" rally after a car plowed through a group of people.
"Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist," Kessler tweeted at the time. "Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time." His post also included a link to a story on the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer that crudely mocked and insulted her as well.
He deleted the tweet after initially claiming that his account had been hacked. He later backtracked and said he had taken too many prescription drugs mixed with alcohol.
On Saturday morning, the tweet had been deleted from Kessler's account, which initially claimed he'd been hacked but then backtracked and said he'd been on a mixture of drugs.
"I repudiate the heinous tweet that was sent from my account last night. I've been under a crushing amount of stress & death threats," he tweeted. "I'm taking ambien, xanax and I had been drinking last night. I sometimes wake up having done strange things I can't remember."
The verification of Kessler's account comes less than a month after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey once again vowed to eliminate hateful speech, symbols and groups and tweets that glorify violence.
According to Twitter, the blue verified badge "lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic".
"An account may be verified if it is determined to be an account of public interest. Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas," the social media giant's official policy states. "A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter."
IBTimes UK has reached out to Twitter for a comment.
In a series of tweets in October, Dorsey said the company decided to "take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them." His announcement came one day after actress Rose McGowan's account was temporarily suspended for violating Twitter's policies. The company claimed she tweeted a phone number.
Prior to her brief suspension, McGowan posted multiple tweets about the sexual harassment scandal surrounding producer Harvey Weinstein. The suspension immediately triggered a furious backlash and the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement.
Kessler tweeted about the Harvey Weinsten scandal and McGowan one day after his account was verified. He wrote: "#1 F**k Harvey Weinstein and all but #2 shouldn't Rose McGowan be held accountable for being a thot that will do anything for attention?"
Kessler isn't the first white nationalist to have his or her account verified on Twitter. Other known alt-right, neo-nazi and white supremacist notables who already have the official blue tick besides their names include Richard Spencer, James Allsup and "Baked Alaska."
News of Kessler's verification on Twitter immediately sparked a backlash from users.
In response to the fierce criticism, Kessler tweeted: Sh*tlib tears they are a-flowin'."