Twitter will add labels to head of states’ personal accounts in attempt to stop them manipulating the platform

Twitter is also adding labels to some state media accounts

Adam Smith
Friday 12 February 2021 12:48

Twitter has announced that it will start adding labels to more government accounts as well as highlighting the personal accounts of heads of state.

The social network hopes that this additional information will help users “have a more informed experience on Twitter”.

Twitter says the rollout of these labels will take place over “several months”, adding that the change is an important step “ so that when people see an account discussing geopolitical issues from another country, they have context on its national affiliation, and are better informed about who they represent. “

The move is a change from Twitter’s previous policy, which it announced in August 2020. At the time, Twitter said that it would exempt the personal accounts of government officials because “these accounts enjoy widespread name recognition, media attention, and public awareness.”

However, following feedback from “ a range of stakeholders — including civil society, academia, and those who use our service” - the company decided to adapt its policy.

“We will expand these labels to accounts from Group of Seven (G7) countries, and to a majority of countries that Twitter has attributed state-linked information operations to. We’ll also apply labels to the personal accounts of heads of state for these countries”, Twitter says.

These operations include “platform manipulation that [Twitter] can reliably attribute to a government or state-backed actor”, the site states.

Twitter also said that it would be updating other labels added to accounts of state-affiliated media, adding more information to accounts in 16 other countries.

The company’s original policy affected China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and United States; it has now expanded that to include Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

This does not affect all state media, however. organisations such as the BBC or NPR in the US are not defined as state-affiliated media because they have “editorial independence.”

Only outlets where “the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution” are included, Twitter says.

Twitter also took action against former head of state Donald Trump recently, saying that the ex-president would be permanently banned from the platform.

“When are removed from the platform, you are removed from the platform,” Ned Segal told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “Whether you are a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official.

“Remember our policies are designed to make sure that people are not inciting violence. And if anybody does that we have to remove them from the service. And our policies don’t allow people to come back.”

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