Twitter announces new labels for government and state-affiliated media accounts

Twitter announced that it will be applying new labels to accounts that belong to government officials, as well as those that are associated with state-affiliated media entities.

“Twitter provides an unmatched way to connect with, and directly speak to public officials and representatives. This direct line of communication with leaders and officials has helped to democratize political discourse and increase transparency and accountability,” Twitter said in an Aug. 6 blog post.

“We also took steps to protect that discourse because we believe political reach should be earned not bought,” Twitter said, while also describing its efforts in 2019 to block all political and state-backed media from the platform.

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Twitter said that the new labels will be applied to two categories of accounts. The first category includes accounts of key government officials, such as foreign ministers, ambassadors and diplomatic leaders.

“At this time, our focus is on senior officials and entities who are the official voice of the state abroad,” Twitter said.

The second category refers to accounts that belong to state-affiliated media, which includes editors-in-chief and/or members of its senior staff.

The labels will be applied to accounts from the countries that are members of the U.N. Security Council: China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Russian Federation.

“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,” Twitter said, noting that that it is not labeling 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 labeled, however,” the company clarified. Twitter said it will take this approach to additional countries in the future.

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The announcement of the new labels arrives at a time when several social media companies have announced changes to their own policies and procedures in efforts to combat the spread of misinformation ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Snapchat announced on Aug. 6 various initiatives the platform is taking to help its users remain informed and safe ahead of the election, even offering the ability to register to vote in the app itself.

TikTok, the Chinese-owned video platform which has been under intense U.S. government scrutiny, also said it would add new rules to combat misinformation and foreign interference.

Facebook launched a “Voting Information Center” on both Facebook and Instagram as part of its widespread effort to boost voter turnout in the U.S. and provide authoritative information about voting. 

On Aug. 7, both Facebook and Twitter removed a video of President Donald Trump saying that children are “virtually immune” to the novel coronvirus. The companies cited a violation of their policies against misinformation as the reason for the video’s removal.

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In June, Facebook removed Trump campaign ads for violating the platform’s “organized hate policy.”

Kelly Taylor Hayes contributed to this story.