Social Media

Twitter labels Government officials’ state-backed media accounts

Bloomberg | Updated on August 07, 2020

Twitter Inc. has begun labelling some state-backed media accounts, as well as accounts belonging to key government officials for certain countries, to create more transparency when governments and their leaders use the social-media platform to discuss important geopolitical issues, the company said Thursday.

The new policy will start with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, -- the U.S., U.K., Russia, China and France -- whose Twitter feeds will be labeled as government accounts. State-backed media organizations and their top editors will also get state-affiliated media labels. The labels will appear on both account profiles and individual tweets. On Friday, the new tag had been appended to accounts belonging to the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily and Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of its affiliated Global Times. “We believe this 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, Twitter wrote in a blog post.

The labels wont apply to all politicians accounts -- only those involved in foreign affairs, such as foreign ministers and ambassadors. Labels will also be added to accounts linked to a specific office, such as, for example, the presidents @POTUS account in the U.S. They wont apply to the personal accounts of heads of state because these accounts enjoy widespread name recognition, media attention and public awareness, Twitter says. That means President Donald Trumps @realDonaldTrump account wont get a label, a company spokesman confirmed. Nor will labels be added to accounts belonging to members of Congress.

Twitter has defined 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. That doesnt include outlets financially supported by the government with editorial independence, the company says, meaning the U.K.s BBC and NPR in the U.S. will be exempt.

Twitter didn’t share a full list of of state-affiliated media organizations, but a spokesman confirmed that Russia’s RT and Sputnik publications are on the list, along with China’s Xinhua News.

Twitter has increasingly become a place where world leaders and other officials post formal statements, issue demands and even threaten other countries. The company already uses a verification system to confirm the validity of some high-profile users, but those verification badges dont include any explanation about who is behind an account.

Twitter stopped selling advertising to state-backed media organizations a year ago and on Thursday said that it will also stop recommending tweets from those accounts in search results and other parts of the app.

Published on August 07, 2020

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor