Twitter is moving to curb the spread of state-affiliated media content that advances political agendas, through a new labelling feature.
The social media giant, on Thursday, August 6 said they would add labels to several categories of Twitter accounts including all government officials, such as foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders. They said that currently, they are focusing on senior officials and entities who are the official voice of the state abroad.
Accounts belonging to state-affliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and their senior staff will also be labelled as such.
When it comes to conversations with government and state-affiliated media accounts on Twitter, we’re helping to make the experience more transparent.
We’ll now use two distinct profile labels for these types of accounts, so you can easily identify them and their Tweets. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/JW67o422MO
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) August 6, 2020
“Our mission is to serve the public conversation and an important part of that work is providing people with context so they can make informed decisions about what they see and how they engage on Twitter,” they said in a blog post.
“Twitter provides an unmatched way to connect with, and directly speak to public officials and representatives. This direct line of communication with leaders and officials has helped to democratise political discourse and increase transparency and accountability,” they explained.
“We also took steps to protect that discourse because we believe political reach should be earned not bought. In 2019, we banned all state-backed media advertising and political advertising from Twitter. Today we’re expanding the types of political accounts we label.”
Twitter said they will notify any account that has been labelled and if the owner believes it was a mistake, they will be able to reach out directly.
The label will appear on the profile page of the Twitter account, and on all tweets sent and shared from the accounts. The labels contain information about the country the account is linked to and whether it is operated by a government representative or state-affiliated media entity.
In terms of the limits on functionality on the accounts caused by the labels, Twitter said: “In the case of state-affiliated media entities, Twitter will not recommend or amplify accounts or their Tweets with these labels to people.”
Labels will only be applied to accounts from the countries represented in the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
“We plan to continue expanding this approach to additional countries over time and look forward to providing additional updates as those plans take shape,” they said.