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Twitter will now label official govt, state media accounts

In a bit to bring more transparency to conversation on the site, Twitter will now label official government accounts or state media organisations. The label will appear on the profile page.

twitter-logoIndia Today Tech | August 7, 2020 | Updated 11:37 IST

Highlights

  • Twitter has said that it will label official government accounts.
  • The move is aimed at improving transparency on the website.
  • Companies like Facebook and YouTube already label government accounts clearly.

Twitter on Thursday announced that it will no longer allow amplification of tweets by state-controlled media organisations. It has started the labelling process of accounts of government officials and state-affiliated media outlets, following similar policies from Facebook and YouTube.

This would bring in clarity for those following any of the tweets that are put out on those handles as being the voice of that State.

"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," said Twitter in a statement on its social media account.

"For clarity: we don't let state-affiliated media accounts advertise on Twitter. We'll also no longer include them or their Tweets in recommendations, as we continue to support a free and independent press," it added.

The new labels are added to the following categories of Twitter accounts:

-- Accounts of key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders. At this time, our focus is on senior officials and entities that are the official voice of the state abroad.

-- Accounts belonging 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, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Twitter will further expand it from the P5 to other nations. The statement said, "For transparency and practicality, we are starting with a limited and clearly-defined group of countries before expanding to a wider range of countries in the future,"

The worst hit in the media sector would be China since almost all Chinese media networks are either state-owned or state-funded and sponsored.

The labelling had started on Thursday itself with most of the Chinese news networks labelled "China state-affiliated media" which includes Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, Global Times, among others. It also includes senior Chinese journalists like Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Times.

From Russia, Sputnik News Agency, Russia Today, among others was labelled.

All official government handles have been labelled as "government account" with the country name prefixed to that label. For e.g. all American government handles have been tagged "US government handle".

Interestingly, the personal handles of the Heads of State have not been labelled, only the official handles of the Presidents have been. For e.g. @realDonaldTrump is not labelled but @POTUS is. Similar rules apply for the other P5 nations.

Twitter also said, "State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, will not be labeled."

As part of the development of this process, Twitter consulted with a number of expert groups, including members of the Digital and Human Rights Advisory group in Twitter's Trust & Safety Council.

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