New Twitter labels will help users better understand the source and intent of media information they are consuming on the platform.
In 2019, Twitter had banned all state-backed media advertising and political advertising on the platform. Now, they are expanding the scope of how they approach transparency in regards to this with adding labels to government and state-affiliated media accounts. Clicking on these labels will direct Twitter users to an article explaining the policy at play.
The labels will be used on two categories of Twitter accounts: i) Accounts of key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders and ii) accounts that belong to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their senior staff.
For now, labels will only be applied to accounts from the countries represented in the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This is being done keeping transparency and practicality in mind. The feature will later be rolled out for more countries in the future.
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At this time, Twitter says they will not be labelling the personal accounts of heads of state, as these accounts enjoy widespread name recognition, media attention, and public awareness. Institutional accounts associated with their offices that changeover depending on election results will be labelled, however, the platform adds.
Twitter defines state-affiliated media as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution. These would be labelled. However, State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, will not be labelled.
In addition to the labels, Twitter has also announced that they will no longer be amplifying state-affiliated media accounts or their tweets through the platform’s recommendations system, including timeline, notifications and search. This change, however, wouldn’t be applied to government accounts, identified as per category one.