San Francisco: Twitter Inc. has begun labeling 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, as well as <Moscow-controlled RT America.
“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 won’t 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 president’s @POTUS account in the U.S. They won’t 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 Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account won’t 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 doesn’t 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 don’t 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.-Bloomberg
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.